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									Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen                                                            file:///C:/ACTIVE/ADD3/1342-h.htm

                                      The Project Gutenberg EBook of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

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                                      Title: Pride and Prejudice

                                      Author: Jane Austen

                                      Last Updated: March 12, 2009
                                      Release Date: August 26, 2008 [EBook #1342]

                                      Language: English

                                      Character set encoding: ASCII

                                      *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PRIDE AND PREJUDICE ***

                                      Produced by Anonymous Volunteers, and David Widger

                                         PRIDE A D PREJUDICE

                                                          By Jane Austen


                                                    Chapter 1    Chapter 22   Chapter 43
                                                    Chapter 2    Chapter 23   Chapter 44
                                                    Chapter 3    Chapter 24   Chapter 45
                                                    Chapter 4    Chapter 25   Chapter 46
                                                    Chapter 5    Chapter 26   Chapter 47
                                                    Chapter 6    Chapter 27   Chapter 48

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                                                   Chapter 7     Chapter 28   Chapter 49
                                                   Chapter 8     Chapter 29   Chapter 50
                                                   Chapter 9     Chapter 30   Chapter 51
                                                   Chapter 10    Chapter 31   Chapter 52
                                                   Chapter 11    Chapter 32   Chapter 53
                                                   Chapter 12    Chapter 33   Chapter 54
                                                   Chapter 13    Chapter 34   Chapter 55
                                                   Chapter 14    Chapter 35   Chapter 56
                                                   Chapter 15    Chapter 36   Chapter 57
                                                   Chapter 16    Chapter 37   Chapter 58
                                                   Chapter 17    Chapter 38   Chapter 59
                                                   Chapter 18    Chapter 39   Chapter 60
                                                   Chapter 19    Chapter 40   Chapter 61
                                                   Chapter 20    Chapter 41
                                                   Chapter 21    Chapter 42

                                                               Chapter 1
                          It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good
                       fortune, must be in want of a wife.
                          However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering
                       a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that
                       he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
                         "My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that
                       Netherfield Park is let at last?"
                          Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
                          "But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about
                          Mr. Bennet made no answer.
                          "Do you not want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatiently.
                          "You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."
                          This was invitation enough.
                         "Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young
                       man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a

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                       chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with
                       Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of
                       his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."
                          "What is his name?"
                          "Is he married or single?"
                          "Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand
                       a year. What a fine thing for our girls!"
                          "How so? How can it affect them?"
                         "My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome! You must
                       know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."
                          "Is that his design in settling here?"
                         "Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love
                       with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes."
                         "I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by
                       themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of
                       them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party."
                         "My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not
                       pretend to be anything extraordinary now. When a woman has five grown-up
                       daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty."
                          "In such cases, a woman has not often much beauty to think of."
                         "But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the
                          "It is more than I engage for, I assure you."
                          "But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one
                       of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for
                       in general, you know, they visit no newcomers. Indeed you must go, for it will be
                       impossible for us to visit him if you do not."
                         "You are over-scrupulous, surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you;
                       and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying
                       whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little
                         "I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am
                       sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you
                       are always giving her the preference."
                          "They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly
                       and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her
                          "Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight

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                       in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves."
                          "You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old
                       friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at
                          "Ah, you do not know what I suffer."
                         "But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a
                       year come into the neighbourhood."
                          "It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them."
                          "Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all."
                          Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and
                       caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his
                       wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman
                       of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was
                       discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her
                       daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.

                                                             Chapter 2
                          Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He had
                       always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he should
                       not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had no knowledge of it. It was
                       then disclosed in the following manner. Observing his second daughter employed in
                       trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her with:
                          "I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy."
                          "We are not in a way to know what Mr. Bingley likes," said her mother resentfully,
                       "since we are not to visit."
                         "But you forget, mamma," said Elizabeth, "that we shall meet him at the assemblies,
                       and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce him."
                         "I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces of her own.
                       She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her."
                         "No more have I," said Mr. Bennet; "and I am glad to find that you do not depend on
                       her serving you."
                         Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began
                       scolding one of her daughters.
                         "Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for Heaven's sake! Have a little compassion on my
                       nerves. You tear them to pieces."
                          "Kitty has no discretion in her coughs," said her father; "she times them ill."

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                         "I do not cough for my own amusement," replied Kitty fretfully. "When is your next
                       ball to be, Lizzy?"
                          "To-morrow fortnight."
                         "Aye, so it is," cried her mother, "and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day
                       before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him
                         "Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr.
                       Bingley to her."
                         "Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible, when I am not acquainted with him myself;
                       how can you be so teasing?"
                          "I honour your circumspection. A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little. One
                       cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture
                       somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long and her daughters must stand their chance;
                       and, therefore, as she will think it an act of kindness, if you decline the office, I will
                       take it on myself."
                          The girls stared at their father. Mrs. Bennet said only, "Nonsense, nonsense!"
                         "What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?" cried he. "Do you
                       consider the forms of introduction, and the stress that is laid on them, as nonsense? I
                       cannot quite agree with you there. What say you, Mary? For you are a young lady of
                       deep reflection, I know, and read great books and make extracts."
                          Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how.
                          "While Mary is adjusting her ideas," he continued, "let us return to Mr. Bingley."
                          "I am sick of Mr. Bingley," cried his wife.
                         "I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me that before? If I had known as
                       much this morning I certainly would not have called on him. It is very unlucky; but as I
                       have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the acquaintance now."
                         The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Bennet perhaps
                       surpassing the rest; though, when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to declare
                       that it was what she had expected all the while.
                          "How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet! But I knew I should persuade you at
                       last. I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance. Well,
                       how pleased I am! and it is such a good joke, too, that you should have gone this
                       morning and never said a word about it till now."
                         "Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose," said Mr. Bennet; and, as he
                       spoke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.
                         "What an excellent father you have, girls!" said she, when the door was shut. "I do
                       not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me, either, for that
                       matter. At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new
                       acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would do anything. Lydia, my love,
                       though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next

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                          "Oh!" said Lydia stoutly, "I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I'm the
                         The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr.
                       Bennet's visit, and determining when they should ask him to dinner.

                                                           Chapter 3
                          Not all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could
                       ask on the subject, was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description
                       of Mr. Bingley. They attacked him in various ways—with barefaced questions,
                       ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all, and
                       they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence of their neighbour,
                       Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with
                       him. He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown
                       the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be
                       more delightful! To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and
                       very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley's heart were entertained.
                         "If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield," said Mrs.
                       Bennet to her husband, "and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to
                       wish for."
                          In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet's visit, and sat about ten minutes with
                       him in his library. He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young
                       ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were
                       somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining from an upper
                       window that he wore a blue coat, and rode a black horse.
                          An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet
                       planned the courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived
                       which deferred it all. Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and,
                       consequently, unable to accept the honour of their invitation, etc. Mrs. Bennet was
                       quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon
                       after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying
                       about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be.
                       Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London
                       only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to
                       bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved
                       over such a number of ladies, but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing,
                       that instead of twelve he brought only six with him from London—his five sisters and a
                       cousin. And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted of only five
                       altogether—Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young
                          Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance,
                       and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided
                       fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr.

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                       Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features,
                       noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his
                       entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine
                       figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he
                       was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a
                       disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be
                       above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire
                       could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and
                       being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
                          Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the
                       room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed
                       so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must
                       speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced
                       only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to
                       any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking
                       occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest,
                       most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come
                       there again. Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of
                       his general behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment by his having slighted
                       one of her daughters.
                          Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two
                       dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her
                       to hear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a
                       few minutes, to press his friend to join it.
                         "Come, Darcy," said he, "I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by
                       yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance."
                         "I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted
                       with my partner. At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable. Your sisters are
                       engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a
                       punishment to me to stand up with."
                         "I would not be so fastidious as you are," cried Mr. Bingley, "for a kingdom! Upon
                       my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening;
                       and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty."
                          "You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room," said Mr. Darcy, looking
                       at the eldest Miss Bennet.
                          "Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters
                       sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let
                       me ask my partner to introduce you."
                         "Which do you mean?" and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till
                       catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: "She is tolerable, but not
                       handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to
                       young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and
                       enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me."
                         Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with
                       no very cordial feelings toward him. She told the story, however, with great spirit

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                       among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything
                          The evening altogether passed off pleasantly to the whole family. Mrs. Bennet had
                       seen her eldest daughter much admired by the Netherfield party. Mr. Bingley had
                       danced with her twice, and she had been distinguished by his sisters. Jane was as much
                       gratified by this as her mother could be, though in a quieter way. Elizabeth felt Jane's
                       pleasure. Mary had heard herself mentioned to Miss Bingley as the most accomplished
                       girl in the neighbourhood; and Catherine and Lydia had been fortunate enough never to
                       be without partners, which was all that they had yet learnt to care for at a ball. They
                       returned, therefore, in good spirits to Longbourn, the village where they lived, and of
                       which they were the principal inhabitants. They found Mr. Bennet still up. With a book
                       he was regardless of time; and on the present occasion he had a good deal of curiosity
                       as to the events of an evening which had raised such splendid expectations. He had
                       rather hoped that his wife's views on the stranger would be disappointed; but he soon
                       found out that he had a different story to hear.
                         "Oh! my dear Mr. Bennet," as she entered the room, "we have had a most delightful
                       evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing
                       could be like it. Everybody said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her
                       quite beautiful, and danced with her twice! Only think of that, my dear; he actually
                       danced with her twice! and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a
                       second time. First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with
                       her! But, however, he did not admire her at all; indeed, nobody can, you know; and he
                       seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So he inquired who
                       she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then the two third he
                       danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with
                       Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger—"
                         "If he had had any compassion for me," cried her husband impatiently, "he would not
                       have danced half so much! For God's sake, say no more of his partners. O that he had
                       sprained his ankle in the first dance!"
                          "Oh! my dear, I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome! And his
                       sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw anything more elegant than their
                       dresses. I dare say the lace upon Mrs. Hurst's gown—"
                          Here she was interrupted again. Mr. Bennet protested against any description of
                       finery. She was therefore obliged to seek another branch of the subject, and related,
                       with much bitterness of spirit and some exaggeration, the shocking rudeness of Mr.
                         "But I can assure you," she added, "that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his
                       fancy; for he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and
                       so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there,
                       fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had
                       been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set-downs. I quite detest the man."

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                                                           Chapter 4
                         When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her
                       praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister just how very much she admired
                          "He is just what a young man ought to be," said she, "sensible, good-humoured,
                       lively; and I never saw such happy manners!—so much ease, with such perfect good
                          "He is also handsome," replied Elizabeth, "which a young man ought likewise to be,
                       if he possibly can. His character is thereby complete."
                         "I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect
                       such a compliment."
                          "Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us.
                       Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never. What could be more natural
                       than his asking you again? He could not help seeing that you were about five times as
                       pretty as every other woman in the room. No thanks to his gallantry for that. Well, he
                       certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a
                       stupider person."
                          "Dear Lizzy!"
                          "Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see
                       a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard
                       you speak ill of a human being in your life."
                          "I would not wish to be hasty in censuring anyone; but I always speak what I think."
                         "I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be
                       so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is
                       common enough—one meets with it everywhere. But to be candid without ostentation
                       or design—to take the good of everybody's character and make it still better, and say
                       nothing of the bad—belongs to you alone. And so you like this man's sisters, too, do
                       you? Their manners are not equal to his."
                         "Certainly not—at first. But they are very pleasing women when you converse with
                       them. Miss Bingley is to live with her brother, and keep his house; and I am much
                       mistaken if we shall not find a very charming neighbour in her."
                          Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced; their behaviour at the assembly
                       had not been calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation
                       and less pliancy of temper than her sister, and with a judgement too unassailed by any
                       attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve them. They were in fact
                       very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the
                       power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited.
                       They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in
                       town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more
                       than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every
                       respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a
                       respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on
                       their memories than that their brother's fortune and their own had been acquired by

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                          Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a hundred thousand pounds
                       from his father, who had intended to purchase an estate, but did not live to do it. Mr.
                       Bingley intended it likewise, and sometimes made choice of his county; but as he was
                       now provided with a good house and the liberty of a manor, it was doubtful to many of
                       those who best knew the easiness of his temper, whether he might not spend the
                       remainder of his days at Netherfield, and leave the next generation to purchase.
                          His sisters were anxious for his having an estate of his own; but, though he was now
                       only established as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means unwilling to preside at his
                       table—nor was Mrs. Hurst, who had married a man of more fashion than fortune, less
                       disposed to consider his house as her home when it suited her. Mr. Bingley had not
                       been of age two years, when he was tempted by an accidental recommendation to look
                       at Netherfield House. He did look at it, and into it for half-an-hour—was pleased with
                       the situation and the principal rooms, satisfied with what the owner said in its praise,
                       and took it immediately.
                          Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of great
                       opposition of character. Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and
                       ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own,
                       and though with his own he never appeared dissatisfied. On the strength of Darcy's
                       regard, Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his judgement the highest opinion. In
                       understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy
                       was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners,
                       though well-bred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage.
                       Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving
                          The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was sufficiently
                       characteristic. Bingley had never met with more pleasant people or prettier girls in his
                       life; everybody had been most kind and attentive to him; there had been no formality,
                       no stiffness; he had soon felt acquainted with all the room; and, as to Miss Bennet, he
                       could not conceive an angel more beautiful. Darcy, on the contrary, had seen a
                       collection of people in whom there was little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom
                       he had felt the smallest interest, and from none received either attention or pleasure.
                       Miss Bennet he acknowledged to be pretty, but she smiled too much.
                         Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so—but still they admired her and liked her,
                       and pronounced her to be a sweet girl, and one whom they would not object to know
                       more of. Miss Bennet was therefore established as a sweet girl, and their brother felt
                       authorized by such commendation to think of her as he chose.

                                                           Chapter 5
                         Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were
                       particularly intimate. Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where
                       he had made a tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by an address to

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                       the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had perhaps been felt too strongly. It had
                       given him a disgust to his business, and to his residence in a small market town; and, in
                       quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a mile from
                       Meryton, denominated from that period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with
                       pleasure of his own importance, and, unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in
                       being civil to all the world. For, though elated by his rank, it did not render him
                       supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention to everybody. By nature inoffensive,
                       friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James's had made him courteous.
                          Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to be a valuable
                       neighbour to Mrs. Bennet. They had several children. The eldest of them, a sensible,
                       intelligent young woman, about twenty-seven, was Elizabeth's intimate friend.
                         That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was
                       absolutely necessary; and the morning after the assembly brought the former to
                       Longbourn to hear and to communicate.
                          "You began the evening well, Charlotte," said Mrs. Bennet with civil self-command
                       to Miss Lucas. "You were Mr. Bingley's first choice."
                          "Yes; but he seemed to like his second better."
                         "Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her twice. To be sure that
                       did seem as if he admired her—indeed I rather believe he did—I heard something about
                       it—but I hardly know what—something about Mr. Robinson."
                         "Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr. Robinson; did not I
                       mention it to you? Mr. Robinson's asking him how he liked our Meryton assemblies,
                       and whether he did not think there were a great many pretty women in the room, and
                       which he thought the prettiest? and his answering immediately to the last question: 'Oh!
                       the eldest Miss Bennet, beyond a doubt; there cannot be two opinions on that point.'"
                         "Upon my word! Well, that is very decided indeed—that does seem as if—but,
                       however, it may all come to nothing, you know."
                          "My overhearings were more to the purpose than yours, Eliza," said Charlotte. "Mr.
                       Darcy is not so well worth listening to as his friend, is he?—poor Eliza!—to be only just
                          "I beg you would not put it into Lizzy's head to be vexed by his ill-treatment, for he is
                       such a disagreeable man, that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs.
                       Long told me last night that he sat close to her for half-an-hour without once opening
                       his lips."
                         "Are you quite sure, ma'am?—is not there a little mistake?" said Jane. "I certainly
                       saw Mr. Darcy speaking to her."
                         "Aye—because she asked him at last how he liked Netherfield, and he could not help
                       answering her; but she said he seemed quite angry at being spoke to."
                          "Miss Bingley told me," said Jane, "that he never speaks much, unless among his
                       intimate acquaintances. With them he is remarkably agreeable."
                         "I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable, he would
                       have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess how it was; everybody says that he is eat up
                       with pride, and I dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a

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                       carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise."
                         "I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long," said Miss Lucas, "but I wish he had
                       danced with Eliza."
                          "Another time, Lizzy," said her mother, "I would not dance with him, if I were you."
                          "I believe, ma'am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him."
                         "His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does,
                       because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man,
                       with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so
                       express it, he has a right to be proud."
                         "That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had
                       not mortified mine."
                          "Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a
                       very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is
                       very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are
                       very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some
                       quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the
                       words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride
                       relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of
                          "If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy," cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, "I
                       should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle
                       of wine a day."
                          "Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought," said Mrs. Bennet; "and if
                       I were to see you at it, I should take away your bottle directly."
                         The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would, and
                       the argument ended only with the visit.

                                                            Chapter 6
                          The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield. The visit was soon
                       returned in due form. Miss Bennet's pleasing manners grew on the goodwill of Mrs.
                       Hurst and Miss Bingley; and though the mother was found to be intolerable, and the
                       younger sisters not worth speaking to, a wish of being better acquainted with them was
                       expressed towards the two eldest. By Jane, this attention was received with the greatest
                       pleasure, but Elizabeth still saw superciliousness in their treatment of everybody, hardly
                       excepting even her sister, and could not like them; though their kindness to Jane, such
                       as it was, had a value as arising in all probability from the influence of their brother's
                       admiration. It was generally evident whenever they met, that he did admire her and to
                       her it was equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preference which she had begun
                       to entertain for him from the first, and was in a way to be very much in love; but she

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                       considered with pleasure that it was not likely to be discovered by the world in general,
                       since Jane united, with great strength of feeling, a composure of temper and a uniform
                       cheerfulness of manner which would guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent.
                       She mentioned this to her friend Miss Lucas.
                          "It may perhaps be pleasant," replied Charlotte, "to be able to impose on the public
                       in such a case; but it is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman
                       conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the
                       opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world
                       equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment,
                       that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely—a slight preference is
                       natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love
                       without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten a women had better show more
                       affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do
                       more than like her, if she does not help him on."
                         "But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow. If I can perceive her
                       regard for him, he must be a simpleton, indeed, not to discover it too."
                          "Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane's disposition as you do."
                          "But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to conceal it, he must
                       find it out."
                          "Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But, though Bingley and Jane meet
                       tolerably often, it is never for many hours together; and, as they always see each other
                       in large mixed parties, it is impossible that every moment should be employed in
                       conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of every half-hour in which
                       she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure
                       for falling in love as much as she chooses."
                          "Your plan is a good one," replied Elizabeth, "where nothing is in question but the
                       desire of being well married, and if I were determined to get a rich husband, or any
                       husband, I dare say I should adopt it. But these are not Jane's feelings; she is not acting
                       by design. As yet, she cannot even be certain of the degree of her own regard nor of its
                       reasonableness. She has known him only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him
                       at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined with him in
                       company four times. This is not quite enough to make her understand his character."
                          "Not as you represent it. Had she merely dined with him, she might only have
                       discovered whether he had a good appetite; but you must remember that four evenings
                       have also been spent together—and four evenings may do a great deal."
                         "Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that they both like
                       Vingt-un better than Commerce; but with respect to any other leading characteristic, I
                       do not imagine that much has been unfolded."
                         "Well," said Charlotte, "I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were
                       married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if
                       she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is
                       entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to
                       each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.
                       They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of
                       vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with

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                       whom you are to pass your life."
                         "You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and
                       that you would never act in this way yourself."
                          Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley's attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from
                       suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his
                       friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her
                       without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to
                       criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly
                       had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly
                       intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded
                       some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than
                       one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to
                       be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the
                       fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Of this she was perfectly
                       unaware; to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and who
                       had not thought her handsome enough to dance with.
                          He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her
                       himself, attended to her conversation with others. His doing so drew her notice. It was
                       at Sir William Lucas's, where a large party were assembled.
                         "What does Mr. Darcy mean," said she to Charlotte, "by listening to my conversation
                       with Colonel Forster?"
                          "That is a question which Mr. Darcy only can answer."
                         "But if he does it any more I shall certainly let him know that I see what he is about.
                       He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall
                       soon grow afraid of him."
                          On his approaching them soon afterwards, though without seeming to have any
                       intention of speaking, Miss Lucas defied her friend to mention such a subject to him;
                       which immediately provoking Elizabeth to do it, she turned to him and said:
                         "Did you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just now,
                       when I was teasing Colonel Forster to give us a ball at Meryton?"
                          "With great energy; but it is always a subject which makes a lady energetic."
                          "You are severe on us."
                          "It will be her turn soon to be teased," said Miss Lucas. "I am going to open the
                       instrument, Eliza, and you know what follows."
                          "You are a very strange creature by way of a friend!—always wanting me to play
                       and sing before anybody and everybody! If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you
                       would have been invaluable; but as it is, I would really rather not sit down before those
                       who must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers." On Miss Lucas's
                       persevering, however, she added, "Very well, if it must be so, it must." And gravely
                       glancing at Mr. Darcy, "There is a fine old saying, which everybody here is of course
                       familiar with: 'Keep your breath to cool your porridge'; and I shall keep mine to swell
                       my song."
                          Her performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a song or two, and

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                       before she could reply to the entreaties of several that she would sing again, she was
                       eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in consequence of
                       being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and
                       accomplishments, was always impatient for display.
                          Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it
                       had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured
                       a higher degree of excellence than she had reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had
                       been listened to with much more pleasure, though not playing half so well; and Mary, at
                       the end of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and
                       Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who, with some of the Lucases, and two
                       or three officers, joined eagerly in dancing at one end of the room.
                         Mr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the
                       evening, to the exclusion of all conversation, and was too much engrossed by his
                       thoughts to perceive that Sir William Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus
                          "What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing
                       like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished society."
                         "Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less
                       polished societies of the world. Every savage can dance."
                          Sir William only smiled. "Your friend performs delightfully," he continued after a
                       pause, on seeing Bingley join the group; "and I doubt not that you are an adept in the
                       science yourself, Mr. Darcy."
                          "You saw me dance at Meryton, I believe, sir."
                         "Yes, indeed, and received no inconsiderable pleasure from the sight. Do you often
                       dance at St. James's?"
                          "Never, sir."
                          "Do you not think it would be a proper compliment to the place?"
                          "It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can avoid it."
                          "You have a house in town, I conclude?"
                          Mr. Darcy bowed.
                         "I had once had some thought of fixing in town myself—for I am fond of superior
                       society; but I did not feel quite certain that the air of London would agree with Lady
                         He paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not disposed to make any;
                       and Elizabeth at that instant moving towards them, he was struck with the action of
                       doing a very gallant thing, and called out to her:
                          "My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing? Mr. Darcy, you must allow me to
                       present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner. You cannot refuse to dance,
                       I am sure when so much beauty is before you." And, taking her hand, he would have
                       given it to Mr. Darcy who, though extremely surprised, was not unwilling to receive it,
                       when she instantly drew back, and said with some discomposure to Sir William:

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                         "Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat you not to suppose
                       that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner."
                          Mr. Darcy, with grave propriety, requested to be allowed the honour of her hand, but
                       in vain. Elizabeth was determined; nor did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his
                       attempt at persuasion.
                         "You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to deny me the happiness
                       of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in general, he can
                       have no objection, I am sure, to oblige us for one half-hour."
                          "Mr. Darcy is all politeness," said Elizabeth, smiling.
                         "He is, indeed; but, considering the inducement, my dear Miss Eliza, we cannot
                       wonder at his complaisance—for who would object to such a partner?"
                         Elizabeth looked archly, and turned away. Her resistance had not injured her with the
                       gentleman, and he was thinking of her with some complacency, when thus accosted by
                       Miss Bingley:
                          "I can guess the subject of your reverie."
                          "I should imagine not."
                          "You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this
                       manner—in such society; and indeed I am quite of your opinion. I was never more
                       annoyed! The insipidity, and yet the noise—the nothingness, and yet the
                       self-importance of all those people! What would I give to hear your strictures on them!"
                         "Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably
                       engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in
                       the face of a pretty woman can bestow."
                          Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and desired he would tell her
                       what lady had the credit of inspiring such reflections. Mr. Darcy replied with great
                          "Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
                         "Miss Elizabeth Bennet!" repeated Miss Bingley. "I am all astonishment. How long
                       has she been such a favourite?—and pray, when am I to wish you joy?"
                         "That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady's imagination is
                       very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I
                       knew you would be wishing me joy."
                         "Nay, if you are serious about it, I shall consider the matter is absolutely settled. You
                       will be having a charming mother-in-law, indeed; and, of course, she will always be at
                       Pemberley with you."
                          He listened to her with perfect indifference while she chose to entertain herself in
                       this manner; and as his composure convinced her that all was safe, her wit flowed long.

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                                                             Chapter 7
                          Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a year,
                       which, unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs male, on a
                       distant relation; and their mother's fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could
                       but ill supply the deficiency of his. Her father had been an attorney in Meryton, and
                       had left her four thousand pounds.
                          She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips, who had been a clerk to their father and
                       succeeded him in the business, and a brother settled in London in a respectable line of
                          The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient
                       distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a
                       week, to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way. The two
                       youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these
                       attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters', and when nothing better
                       offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish
                       conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might
                       be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were
                       well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment in
                       the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the
                          Their visits to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most interesting intelligence.
                       Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers' names and connections.
                       Their lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they began to know the officers
                       themselves. Mr. Phillips visited them all, and this opened to his nieces a store of felicity
                       unknown before. They could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley's large
                       fortune, the mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their
                       eyes when opposed to the regimentals of an ensign.
                         After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr. Bennet coolly
                          "From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest
                       girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced."
                          Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect
                       indifference, continued to express her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope of
                       seeing him in the course of the day, as he was going the next morning to London.
                         "I am astonished, my dear," said Mrs. Bennet, "that you should be so ready to think
                       your own children silly. If I wished to think slightingly of anybody's children, it should
                       not be of my own, however."
                          "If my children are silly, I must hope to be always sensible of it."
                          "Yes—but as it happens, they are all of them very clever."
                          "This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not agree. I had hoped that
                       our sentiments coincided in every particular, but I must so far differ from you as to
                       think our two youngest daughters uncommonly foolish."

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                          "My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their father
                       and mother. When they get to our age, I dare say they will not think about officers any
                       more than we do. I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well—and,
                       indeed, so I do still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand
                       a year, should want one of my girls I shall not say nay to him; and I thought Colonel
                       Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir William's in his regimentals."
                         "Mamma," cried Lydia, "my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do
                       not go so often to Miss Watson's as they did when they first came; she sees them now
                       very often standing in Clarke's library."
                         Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for
                       Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer. Mrs.
                       Bennet's eyes sparkled with pleasure, and she was eagerly calling out, while her
                       daughter read,
                         "Well, Jane, who is it from? What is it about? What does he say? Well, Jane, make
                       haste and tell us; make haste, my love."
                          "It is from Miss Bingley," said Jane, and then read it aloud.

                                                       "MY DEAR FRIEND,—

                         "If you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa and me, we shall be in
                       danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives, for a whole day's tete-a-tete
                       between two women can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you can on
                       receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with the officers.—Yours

                                                       "CAROLINE BINGLEY"

                          "With the officers!" cried Lydia. "I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that."
                          "Dining out," said Mrs. Bennet, "that is very unlucky."
                          "Can I have the carriage?" said Jane.
                         "No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and
                       then you must stay all night."
                         "That would be a good scheme," said Elizabeth, "if you were sure that they would
                       not offer to send her home."
                         "Oh! but the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley's chaise to go to Meryton, and the
                       Hursts have no horses to theirs."
                          "I had much rather go in the coach."
                          "But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure. They are wanted in the
                       farm, Mr. Bennet, are they not?"
                          "They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them."
                         "But if you have got them to-day," said Elizabeth, "my mother's purpose will be

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                         She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were
                       engaged. Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to
                       the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered; Jane
                       had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her
                       mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission; Jane
                       certainly could not come back.
                          "This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!" said Mrs. Bennet more than once, as if the
                       credit of making it rain were all her own. Till the next morning, however, she was not
                       aware of all the felicity of her contrivance. Breakfast was scarcely over when a servant
                       from Netherfield brought the following note for Elizabeth:

                                                       "MY DEAREST LIZZY,—

                          "I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my
                       getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of my returning till I am
                       better. They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones—therefore do not be alarmed if you
                       should hear of his having been to me—and, excepting a sore throat and headache, there
                       is not much the matter with me.—Yours, etc."
                          "Well, my dear," said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, "if your
                       daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness—if she should die, it would be a comfort
                       to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders."
                          "Oh! I am not afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds. She will be
                       taken good care of. As long as she stays there, it is all very well. I would go and see her
                       if I could have the carriage."
                         Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, was determined to go to her, though the carriage
                       was not to be had; and as she was no horsewoman, walking was her only alternative.
                       She declared her resolution.
                          "How can you be so silly," cried her mother, "as to think of such a thing, in all this
                       dirt! You will not be fit to be seen when you get there."
                          "I shall be very fit to see Jane—which is all I want."
                          "Is this a hint to me, Lizzy," said her father, "to send for the horses?"
                         "No, indeed, I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is nothing when one has a
                       motive; only three miles. I shall be back by dinner."
                         "I admire the activity of your benevolence," observed Mary, "but every impulse of
                       feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in
                       proportion to what is required."
                         "We will go as far as Meryton with you," said Catherine and Lydia. Elizabeth
                       accepted their company, and the three young ladies set off together.
                         "If we make haste," said Lydia, as they walked along, "perhaps we may see
                       something of Captain Carter before he goes."
                          In Meryton they parted; the two youngest repaired to the lodgings of one of the
                       officers' wives, and Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a
                       quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and

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                       finding herself at last within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and
                       a face glowing with the warmth of exercise.
                          She was shown into the breakfast-parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and
                       where her appearance created a great deal of surprise. That she should have walked
                       three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather, and by herself, was almost
                       incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth was convinced that they held
                       her in contempt for it. She was received, however, very politely by them; and in their
                       brother's manners there was something better than politeness; there was good humour
                       and kindness. Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was
                       divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her
                       complexion, and doubt as to the occasion's justifying her coming so far alone. The latter
                       was thinking only of his breakfast.
                          Her inquiries after her sister were not very favourably answered. Miss Bennet had
                       slept ill, and though up, was very feverish, and not well enough to leave her room.
                       Elizabeth was glad to be taken to her immediately; and Jane, who had only been
                       withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience from expressing in her note how
                       much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance. She was not equal,
                       however, to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left them together, could
                       attempt little besides expressions of gratitude for the extraordinary kindness she was
                       treated with. Elizabeth silently attended her.
                         When breakfast was over they were joined by the sisters; and Elizabeth began to like
                       them herself, when she saw how much affection and solicitude they showed for Jane.
                       The apothecary came, and having examined his patient, said, as might be supposed, that
                       she had caught a violent cold, and that they must endeavour to get the better of it;
                       advised her to return to bed, and promised her some draughts. The advice was followed
                       readily, for the feverish symptoms increased, and her head ached acutely. Elizabeth did
                       not quit her room for a moment; nor were the other ladies often absent; the gentlemen
                       being out, they had, in fact, nothing to do elsewhere.
                          When the clock struck three, Elizabeth felt that she must go, and very unwillingly
                       said so. Miss Bingley offered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to
                       accept it, when Jane testified such concern in parting with her, that Miss Bingley was
                       obliged to convert the offer of the chaise to an invitation to remain at Netherfield for
                       the present. Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servant was dispatched to
                       Longbourn to acquaint the family with her stay and bring back a supply of clothes.

                                                           Chapter 8
                         At five o'clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth was
                       summoned to dinner. To the civil inquiries which then poured in, and amongst which
                       she had the pleasure of distinguishing the much superior solicitude of Mr. Bingley's, she
                       could not make a very favourable answer. Jane was by no means better. The sisters, on
                       hearing this, repeated three or four times how much they were grieved, how shocking it
                       was to have a bad cold, and how excessively they disliked being ill themselves; and
                       then thought no more of the matter: and their indifference towards Jane when not

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                       immediately before them restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her former dislike.
                          Their brother, indeed, was the only one of the party whom she could regard with any
                       complacency. His anxiety for Jane was evident, and his attentions to herself most
                       pleasing, and they prevented her feeling herself so much an intruder as she believed she
                       was considered by the others. She had very little notice from any but him. Miss Bingley
                       was engrossed by Mr. Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for Mr. Hurst, by whom
                       Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards;
                       who, when he found her to prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her.
                          When dinner was over, she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began
                       abusing her as soon as she was out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be
                       very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no
                       style, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added:
                         "She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall
                       never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild."
                         "She did, indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to
                       come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a
                       cold? Her hair, so untidy, so blowsy!"
                          "Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am
                       absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its
                         "Your picture may be very exact, Louisa," said Bingley; "but this was all lost upon
                       me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well when she came into the
                       room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice."
                          "You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure," said Miss Bingley; "and I am inclined to
                       think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition."
                          "Certainly not."
                          "To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles
                       in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an
                       abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to
                          "It shows an affection for her sister that is very pleasing," said Bingley.
                         "I am afraid, Mr. Darcy," observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, "that this
                       adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes."
                          "Not at all," he replied; "they were brightened by the exercise." A short pause
                       followed this speech, and Mrs. Hurst began again:
                          "I have an excessive regard for Miss Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl, and
                       I wish with all my heart she were well settled. But with such a father and mother, and
                       such low connections, I am afraid there is no chance of it."
                          "I think I have heard you say that their uncle is an attorney on Meryton."
                          "Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside."
                          "That is capital," added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.

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                         "If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside," cried Bingley, "it would not make
                       them one jot less agreeable."
                         "But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any
                       consideration in the world," replied Darcy.
                          To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent,
                       and indulged their mirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend's vulgar
                          With a renewal of tenderness, however, they returned to her room on leaving the
                       dining-parlour, and sat with her till summoned to coffee. She was still very poorly, and
                       Elizabeth would not quit her at all, till late in the evening, when she had the comfort of
                       seeing her sleep, and when it seemed to her rather right than pleasant that she should go
                       downstairs herself. On entering the drawing-room she found the whole party at loo, and
                       was immediately invited to join them; but suspecting them to be playing high she
                       declined it, and making her sister the excuse, said she would amuse herself for the short
                       time she could stay below, with a book. Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment.
                          "Do you prefer reading to cards?" said he; "that is rather singular."
                         "Miss Eliza Bennet," said Miss Bingley, "despises cards. She is a great reader, and
                       has no pleasure in anything else."
                         "I deserve neither such praise nor such censure," cried Elizabeth; "I am not a great
                       reader, and I have pleasure in many things."
                         "In nursing your sister I am sure you have pleasure," said Bingley; "and I hope it will
                       be soon increased by seeing her quite well."
                          Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards the table where a
                       few books were lying. He immediately offered to fetch her others—all that his library
                         "And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am
                       an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever looked into."
                          Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room.
                         "I am astonished," said Miss Bingley, "that my father should have left so small a
                       collection of books. What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!"
                          "It ought to be good," he replied, "it has been the work of many generations."
                          "And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books."
                          "I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these."
                          "Neglect! I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that noble
                       place. Charles, when you build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful as
                          "I wish it may."
                          "But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and
                       take Pemberley for a kind of model. There is not a finer county in England than

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                          "With all my heart; I will buy Pemberley itself if Darcy will sell it."
                          "I am talking of possibilities, Charles."
                         "Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by
                       purchase than by imitation."
                          Elizabeth was so much caught with what passed, as to leave her very little attention
                       for her book; and soon laying it wholly aside, she drew near the card-table, and
                       stationed herself between Mr. Bingley and his eldest sister, to observe the game.
                          "Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?" said Miss Bingley; "will she be as tall
                       as I am?"
                          "I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet's height, or rather taller."
                         "How I long to see her again! I never met with anybody who delighted me so much.
                       Such a countenance, such manners! And so extremely accomplished for her age! Her
                       performance on the pianoforte is exquisite."
                         "It is amazing to me," said Bingley, "how young ladies can have patience to be so
                       very accomplished as they all are."
                          "All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?"
                         "Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I
                       scarcely know anyone who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady
                       spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished."
                          "Your list of the common extent of accomplishments," said Darcy, "has too much
                       truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by
                       netting a purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your
                       estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half-a-dozen, in the
                       whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished."
                          "Nor I, I am sure," said Miss Bingley.
                         "Then," observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an
                       accomplished woman."
                          "Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it."
                          "Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed
                       accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must
                       have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern
                       languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain
                       something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and
                       expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."
                         "All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something
                       more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
                         "I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather
                       wonder now at your knowing any."
                          "Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?"

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                         "I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application,
                       and elegance, as you describe united."
                          Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injustice of her implied doubt,
                       and were both protesting that they knew many women who answered this description,
                       when Mr. Hurst called them to order, with bitter complaints of their inattention to what
                       was going forward. As all conversation was thereby at an end, Elizabeth soon
                       afterwards left the room.
                           "Elizabeth Bennet," said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, "is one of
                       those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by
                       undervaluing their own; and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds. But, in my opinion,
                       it is a paltry device, a very mean art."
                         "Undoubtedly," replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, "there is
                       a meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for
                       captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable."
                          Miss Bingley was not so entirely satisfied with this reply as to continue the subject.
                          Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she could
                       not leave her. Bingley urged Mr. Jones being sent for immediately; while his sisters,
                       convinced that no country advice could be of any service, recommended an express to
                       town for one of the most eminent physicians. This she would not hear of; but she was
                       not so unwilling to comply with their brother's proposal; and it was settled that Mr.
                       Jones should be sent for early in the morning, if Miss Bennet were not decidedly better.
                       Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable. They
                       solaced their wretchedness, however, by duets after supper, while he could find no
                       better relief to his feelings than by giving his housekeeper directions that every
                       attention might be paid to the sick lady and her sister.

                                                            Chapter 9
                          Elizabeth passed the chief of the night in her sister's room, and in the morning had
                       the pleasure of being able to send a tolerable answer to the inquiries which she very
                       early received from Mr. Bingley by a housemaid, and some time afterwards from the
                       two elegant ladies who waited on his sisters. In spite of this amendment, however, she
                       requested to have a note sent to Longbourn, desiring her mother to visit Jane, and form
                       her own judgement of her situation. The note was immediately dispatched, and its
                       contents as quickly complied with. Mrs. Bennet, accompanied by her two youngest
                       girls, reached Netherfield soon after the family breakfast.
                          Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very
                       miserable; but being satisfied on seeing her that her illness was not alarming, she had no
                       wish of her recovering immediately, as her restoration to health would probably remove
                       her from Netherfield. She would not listen, therefore, to her daughter's proposal of
                       being carried home; neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the same time, think
                       it at all advisable. After sitting a little while with Jane, on Miss Bingley's appearance

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                       and invitation, the mother and three daughter all attended her into the breakfast parlour.
                       Bingley met them with hopes that Mrs. Bennet had not found Miss Bennet worse than
                       she expected.
                          "Indeed I have, sir," was her answer. "She is a great deal too ill to be moved. Mr.
                       Jones says we must not think of moving her. We must trespass a little longer on your
                         "Removed!" cried Bingley. "It must not be thought of. My sister, I am sure, will not
                       hear of her removal."
                         "You may depend upon it, Madam," said Miss Bingley, with cold civility, "that Miss
                       Bennet will receive every possible attention while she remains with us."
                          Mrs. Bennet was profuse in her acknowledgments.
                         "I am sure," she added, "if it was not for such good friends I do not know what would
                       become of her, for she is very ill indeed, and suffers a vast deal, though with the
                       greatest patience in the world, which is always the way with her, for she has, without
                       exception, the sweetest temper I have ever met with. I often tell my other girls they are
                       nothing to her. You have a sweet room here, Mr. Bingley, and a charming prospect
                       over the gravel walk. I do not know a place in the country that is equal to Netherfield.
                       You will not think of quitting it in a hurry, I hope, though you have but a short lease."
                         "Whatever I do is done in a hurry," replied he; "and therefore if I should resolve to
                       quit Netherfield, I should probably be off in five minutes. At present, however, I
                       consider myself as quite fixed here."
                          "That is exactly what I should have supposed of you," said Elizabeth.
                          "You begin to comprehend me, do you?" cried he, turning towards her.
                          "Oh! yes—I understand you perfectly."
                          "I wish I might take this for a compliment; but to be so easily seen through I am
                       afraid is pitiful."
                          "That is as it happens. It does not follow that a deep, intricate character is more or
                       less estimable than such a one as yours."
                         "Lizzy," cried her mother, "remember where you are, and do not run on in the wild
                       manner that you are suffered to do at home."
                         "I did not know before," continued Bingley immediately, "that you were a studier of
                       character. It must be an amusing study."
                         "Yes, but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that
                          "The country," said Darcy, "can in general supply but a few subjects for such a
                       study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying
                         "But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in
                       them for ever."
                          "Yes, indeed," cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a country

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                       neighbourhood. "I assure you there is quite as much of that going on in the country as
                       in town."
                          Everybody was surprised, and Darcy, after looking at her for a moment, turned
                       silently away. Mrs. Bennet, who fancied she had gained a complete victory over him,
                       continued her triumph.
                         "I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the country, for my part,
                       except the shops and public places. The country is a vast deal pleasanter, is it not, Mr.
                         "When I am in the country," he replied, "I never wish to leave it; and when I am in
                       town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally
                       happy in either."
                         "Aye—that is because you have the right disposition. But that gentleman," looking at
                       Darcy, "seemed to think the country was nothing at all."
                         "Indeed, Mamma, you are mistaken," said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother. "You
                       quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that there was not such a variety of people to
                       be met with in the country as in the town, which you must acknowledge to be true."
                          "Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people
                       in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine
                       with four-and-twenty families."
                          Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance. His
                       sister was less delicate, and directed her eyes towards Mr. Darcy with a very expressive
                       smile. Elizabeth, for the sake of saying something that might turn her mother's thoughts,
                       now asked her if Charlotte Lucas had been at Longbourn since her coming away.
                         "Yes, she called yesterday with her father. What an agreeable man Sir William is,
                       Mr. Bingley, is not he? So much the man of fashion! So genteel and easy! He had
                       always something to say to everybody. That is my idea of good breeding; and those
                       persons who fancy themselves very important, and never open their mouths, quite
                       mistake the matter."
                          "Did Charlotte dine with you?"
                          "No, she would go home. I fancy she was wanted about the mince-pies. For my part,
                       Mr. Bingley, I always keep servants that can do their own work; my daughters are
                       brought up very differently. But everybody is to judge for themselves, and the Lucases
                       are a very good sort of girls, I assure you. It is a pity they are not handsome! Not that I
                       think Charlotte so very plain—but then she is our particular friend."
                          "She seems a very pleasant young woman."
                         "Oh! dear, yes; but you must own she is very plain. Lady Lucas herself has often said
                       so, and envied me Jane's beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure,
                       Jane—one does not often see anybody better looking. It is what everybody says. I do
                       not trust my own partiality. When she was only fifteen, there was a man at my brother
                       Gardiner's in town so much in love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would
                       make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought
                       her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were."
                          "And so ended his affection," said Elizabeth impatiently. "There has been many a

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                       one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of
                       poetry in driving away love!"
                          "I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love," said Darcy.
                         "Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already.
                       But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet
                       will starve it entirely away."
                          Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest
                       her mother should be exposing herself again. She longed to speak, but could think of
                       nothing to say; and after a short silence Mrs. Bennet began repeating her thanks to Mr.
                       Bingley for his kindness to Jane, with an apology for troubling him also with Lizzy. Mr.
                       Bingley was unaffectedly civil in his answer, and forced his younger sister to be civil
                       also, and say what the occasion required. She performed her part indeed without much
                       graciousness, but Mrs. Bennet was satisfied, and soon afterwards ordered her carriage.
                       Upon this signal, the youngest of her daughters put herself forward. The two girls had
                       been whispering to each other during the whole visit, and the result of it was, that the
                       youngest should tax Mr. Bingley with having promised on his first coming into the
                       country to give a ball at Netherfield.
                          Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and
                       good-humoured countenance; a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought
                       her into public at an early age. She had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural
                       self-consequence, which the attention of the officers, to whom her uncle's good dinners,
                       and her own easy manners recommended her, had increased into assurance. She was
                       very equal, therefore, to address Mr. Bingley on the subject of the ball, and abruptly
                       reminded him of his promise; adding, that it would be the most shameful thing in the
                       world if he did not keep it. His answer to this sudden attack was delightful to their
                       mother's ear:
                         "I am perfectly ready, I assure you, to keep my engagement; and when your sister is
                       recovered, you shall, if you please, name the very day of the ball. But you would not
                       wish to be dancing when she is ill."
                         Lydia declared herself satisfied. "Oh! yes—it would be much better to wait till Jane
                       was well, and by that time most likely Captain Carter would be at Meryton again. And
                       when you have given your ball," she added, "I shall insist on their giving one also. I
                       shall tell Colonel Forster it will be quite a shame if he does not."
                         Mrs. Bennet and her daughters then departed, and Elizabeth returned instantly to
                       Jane, leaving her own and her relations' behaviour to the remarks of the two ladies and
                       Mr. Darcy; the latter of whom, however, could not be prevailed on to join in their
                       censure of her, in spite of all Miss Bingley's witticisms on fine eyes.

                                                          Chapter 10
                         The day passed much as the day before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had
                       spent some hours of the morning with the invalid, who continued, though slowly, to

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                       mend; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party in the drawing-room. The
                       loo-table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley, seated
                       near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off his attention
                       by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was
                       observing their game.
                          Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to
                       what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the
                       lady, either on his handwriting, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his
                       letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a
                       curious dialogue, and was exactly in union with her opinion of each.
                          "How delighted Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!"
                          He made no answer.
                          "You write uncommonly fast."
                          "You are mistaken. I write rather slowly."
                          "How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Letters
                       of business, too! How odious I should think them!"
                          "It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of yours."
                          "Pray tell your sister that I long to see her."
                          "I have already told her so once, by your desire."
                         "I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens
                       remarkably well."
                          "Thank you—but I always mend my own."
                          "How can you contrive to write so even?"
                          He was silent.
                          "Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp; and pray let
                       her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I
                       think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley's."
                         "Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? At present I have
                       not room to do them justice."
                         "Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such
                       charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?"
                          "They are generally long; but whether always charming it is not for me to determine."
                           "It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write
                         "That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother, "because
                       he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. Do not
                       you, Darcy?"
                          "My style of writing is very different from yours."

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                          "Oh!" cried Miss Bingley, "Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He
                       leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."
                          "My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them—by which means my
                       letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."
                          "Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof."
                         "Nothing is more deceitful," said Darcy, "than the appearance of humility. It is often
                       only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast."
                          "And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?"
                          "The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you
                       consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution,
                       which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing
                       anything with quickness is always prized much by the possessor, and often without any
                       attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this
                       morning that if you ever resolved upon quitting Netherfield you should be gone in five
                       minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself—and yet
                       what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary
                       business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or anyone else?"
                          "Nay," cried Bingley, "this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things
                       that were said in the morning. And yet, upon my honour, I believe what I said of myself
                       to be true, and I believe it at this moment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the
                       character of needless precipitance merely to show off before the ladies."
                         "I dare say you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone
                       with such celerity. Your conduct would be quite as dependent on chance as that of any
                       man I know; and if, as you were mounting your horse, a friend were to say, 'Bingley,
                       you had better stay till next week,' you would probably do it, you would probably not
                       go—and at another word, might stay a month."
                          "You have only proved by this," cried Elizabeth, "that Mr. Bingley did not do justice
                       to his own disposition. You have shown him off now much more than he did himself."
                          "I am exceedingly gratified," said Bingley, "by your converting what my friend says
                       into a compliment on the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a
                       turn which that gentleman did by no means intend; for he would certainly think better
                       of me, if under such a circumstance I were to give a flat denial, and ride off as fast as I
                         "Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intentions as atoned
                       for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?"
                          "Upon my word, I cannot exactly explain the matter; Darcy must speak for himself."
                         "You expect me to account for opinions which you choose to call mine, but which I
                       have never acknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your
                       representation, you must remember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to
                       desire his return to the house, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it
                       without offering one argument in favour of its propriety."
                          "To yield readily—easily—to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you."

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                          "To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either."
                           "You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and
                       affection. A regard for the requester would often make one readily yield to a request,
                       without waiting for arguments to reason one into it. I am not particularly speaking of
                       such a case as you have supposed about Mr. Bingley. We may as well wait, perhaps, till
                       the circumstance occurs before we discuss the discretion of his behaviour thereupon.
                       But in general and ordinary cases between friend and friend, where one of them is
                       desired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think
                       ill of that person for complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it?"
                         "Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather
                       more precision the degree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as
                       the degree of intimacy subsisting between the parties?"
                          "By all means," cried Bingley; "let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their
                       comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss
                       Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure you, that if Darcy were not such a great tall
                       fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I
                       declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in
                       particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening, when he has
                       nothing to do."
                          Mr. Darcy smiled; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather
                       offended, and therefore checked her laugh. Miss Bingley warmly resented the indignity
                       he had received, in an expostulation with her brother for talking such nonsense.
                          "I see your design, Bingley," said his friend. "You dislike an argument, and want to
                       silence this."
                         "Perhaps I do. Arguments are too much like disputes. If you and Miss Bennet will
                       defer yours till I am out of the room, I shall be very thankful; and then you may say
                       whatever you like of me."
                         "What you ask," said Elizabeth, "is no sacrifice on my side; and Mr. Darcy had much
                       better finish his letter."
                          Mr. Darcy took her advice, and did finish his letter.
                          When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for an
                       indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved with some alacrity to the pianoforte;
                       and, after a polite request that Elizabeth would lead the way which the other as politely
                       and more earnestly negatived, she seated herself.
                          Mrs. Hurst sang with her sister, and while they were thus employed, Elizabeth could
                       not help observing, as she turned over some music-books that lay on the instrument,
                       how frequently Mr. Darcy's eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose
                       that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look
                       at her because he disliked her, was still more strange. She could only imagine, however,
                       at last that she drew his notice because there was something more wrong and
                       reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present. The
                       supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation.
                          After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch
                       air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her:

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                         "Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of
                       dancing a reel?"
                          She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her
                          "Oh!" said she, "I heard you before, but I could not immediately determine what to
                       say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say 'Yes,' that you might have the pleasure of
                       despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and
                       cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind
                       to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all—and now despise me if you dare."
                          "Indeed I do not dare."
                         Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but
                       there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for
                       her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he
                       was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he
                       should be in some danger.
                          Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the
                       recovery of her dear friend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid
                       of Elizabeth.
                         She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed
                       marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.
                          "I hope," said she, as they were walking together in the shrubbery the next day, "you
                       will give your mother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to
                       the advantage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it, do cure the younger
                       girls of running after officers. And, if I may mention so delicate a subject, endeavour to
                       check that little something, bordering on conceit and impertinence, which your lady
                          "Have you anything else to propose for my domestic felicity?"
                          "Oh! yes. Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Phillips be placed in the gallery
                       at Pemberley. Put them next to your great-uncle the judge. They are in the same
                       profession, you know, only in different lines. As for your Elizabeth's picture, you must
                       not have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?"
                         "It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and shape,
                       and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied."
                         At that moment they were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth
                          "I did not know that you intended to walk," said Miss Bingley, in some confusion,
                       lest they had been overheard.
                         "You used us abominably ill," answered Mrs. Hurst, "running away without telling us
                       that you were coming out."
                         Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth to walk by herself.
                       The path just admitted three. Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness, and immediately said:

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                          "This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue."
                         But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly
                         "No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon
                       advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good-bye."
                         She then ran gaily off, rejoicing as she rambled about, in the hope of being at home
                       again in a day or two. Jane was already so much recovered as to intend leaving her
                       room for a couple of hours that evening.

                                                           Chapter 11
                         When the ladies removed after dinner, Elizabeth ran up to her sister, and seeing her
                       well guarded from cold, attended her into the drawing-room, where she was welcomed
                       by her two friends with many professions of pleasure; and Elizabeth had never seen
                       them so agreeable as they were during the hour which passed before the gentlemen
                       appeared. Their powers of conversation were considerable. They could describe an
                       entertainment with accuracy, relate an anecdote with humour, and laugh at their
                       acquaintance with spirit.
                          But when the gentlemen entered, Jane was no longer the first object; Miss Bingley's
                       eyes were instantly turned toward Darcy, and she had something to say to him before
                       he had advanced many steps. He addressed himself to Miss Bennet, with a polite
                       congratulation; Mr. Hurst also made her a slight bow, and said he was "very glad;" but
                       diffuseness and warmth remained for Bingley's salutation. He was full of joy and
                       attention. The first half-hour was spent in piling up the fire, lest she should suffer from
                       the change of room; and she removed at his desire to the other side of the fireplace, that
                       she might be further from the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to
                       anyone else. Elizabeth, at work in the opposite corner, saw it all with great delight.
                          When tea was over, Mr. Hurst reminded his sister-in-law of the card-table—but in
                       vain. She had obtained private intelligence that Mr. Darcy did not wish for cards; and
                       Mr. Hurst soon found even his open petition rejected. She assured him that no one
                       intended to play, and the silence of the whole party on the subject seemed to justify her.
                       Mr. Hurst had therefore nothing to do, but to stretch himself on one of the sofas and go
                       to sleep. Darcy took up a book; Miss Bingley did the same; and Mrs. Hurst, principally
                       occupied in playing with her bracelets and rings, joined now and then in her brother's
                       conversation with Miss Bennet.
                          Miss Bingley's attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy's progress
                       through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some
                       inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he
                       merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt
                       to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second
                       volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, "How pleasant it is to spend an evening
                       in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one

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                       tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if
                       I have not an excellent library."
                         No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her
                       eyes round the room in quest for some amusement; when hearing her brother
                       mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turned suddenly towards him and said:
                          "By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield? I
                       would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present
                       party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be
                       rather a punishment than a pleasure."
                         "If you mean Darcy," cried her brother, "he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it
                       begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made
                       white soup enough, I shall send round my cards."
                          "I should like balls infinitely better," she replied, "if they were carried on in a
                       different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of
                       such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of
                       dancing were made the order of the day."
                          "Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much
                       like a ball."
                         Miss Bingley made no answer, and soon afterwards she got up and walked about the
                       room. Her figure was elegant, and she walked well; but Darcy, at whom it was all
                       aimed, was still inflexibly studious. In the desperation of her feelings, she resolved on
                       one effort more, and, turning to Elizabeth, said:
                         "Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about
                       the room. I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."
                          Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no
                       less in the real object of her civility; Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to
                       the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously
                       closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing
                       that he could imagine but two motives for their choosing to walk up and down the room
                       together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. "What could he
                       mean? She was dying to know what could be his meaning?"—and asked Elizabeth
                       whether she could at all understand him?
                         "Not at all," was her answer; "but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and
                       our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it."
                         Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in anything, and
                       persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.
                          "I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she
                       allowed him to speak. "You either choose this method of passing the evening because
                       you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you
                       are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; if the first, I
                       would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I
                       sit by the fire."
                          "Oh! shocking!" cried Miss Bingley. "I never heard anything so abominable. How

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                       shall we punish him for such a speech?"
                         "Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination," said Elizabeth. "We can all plague
                       and punish one another. Tease him—laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know
                       how it is to be done."
                          "But upon my honour, I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught
                       me that. Tease calmness of manner and presence of mind! No, no—feel he may defy us
                       there. And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to
                       laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself."
                         "Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!" cried Elizabeth. "That is an uncommon
                       advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to
                       have many such acquaintances. I dearly love a laugh."
                          "Miss Bingley," said he, "has given me more credit than can be. The wisest and the
                       best of men—nay, the wisest and best of their actions—may be rendered ridiculous by
                       a person whose first object in life is a joke."
                          "Certainly," replied Elizabeth—"there are such people, but I hope I am not one of
                       them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Follies and nonsense, whims and
                       inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can. But these, I
                       suppose, are precisely what you are without."
                         "Perhaps that is not possible for anyone. But it has been the study of my life to avoid
                       those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule."
                          "Such as vanity and pride."
                         "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride—where there is a real superiority of
                       mind, pride will be always under good regulation."
                          Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile.
                         "Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I presume," said Miss Bingley; "and pray
                       what is the result?"
                         "I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself
                       without disguise."
                           "No," said Darcy, "I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they
                       are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too
                       little yielding—certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the
                       follies and vices of other so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself. My
                       feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would
                       perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever."
                          "That is a failing indeed!" cried Elizabeth. "Implacable resentment is a shade in a
                       character. But you have chosen your fault well. I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe
                       from me."
                         "There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil—a natural
                       defect, which not even the best education can overcome."
                          "And your defect is to hate everybody."
                          "And yours," he replied with a smile, "is willfully to misunderstand them."

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                         "Do let us have a little music," cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which
                       she had no share. "Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst?"
                          Her sister had not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte was opened; and Darcy,
                       after a few moments' recollection, was not sorry for it. He began to feel the danger of
                       paying Elizabeth too much attention.

                                                           Chapter 12
                          In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next
                       morning to their mother, to beg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of
                       the day. But Mrs. Bennet, who had calculated on her daughters remaining at
                       Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactly finish Jane's week, could
                       not bring herself to receive them with pleasure before. Her answer, therefore, was not
                       propitious, at least not to Elizabeth's wishes, for she was impatient to get home. Mrs.
                       Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before Tuesday;
                       and in her postscript it was added, that if Mr. Bingley and his sister pressed them to stay
                       longer, she could spare them very well. Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was
                       positively resolved—nor did she much expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the
                       contrary, as being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, she urged Jane to
                       borrow Mr. Bingley's carriage immediately, and at length it was settled that their
                       original design of leaving Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the
                       request made.
                         The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of
                       wishing them to stay at least till the following day to work on Jane; and till the morrow
                       their going was deferred. Miss Bingley was then sorry that she had proposed the delay,
                       for her jealousy and dislike of one sister much exceeded her affection for the other.
                         The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and
                       repeatedly tried to persuade Miss Bennet that it would not be safe for her—that she
                       was not enough recovered; but Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.
                         To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence—Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long
                       enough. She attracted him more than he liked—and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her,
                       and more teasing than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful
                       that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with
                       the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his
                       behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it.
                       Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of
                       Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he
                       adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.
                          On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable to almost all, took
                       place. Miss Bingley's civility to Elizabeth increased at last very rapidly, as well as her
                       affection for Jane; and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the pleasure it
                       would always give her to see her either at Longbourn or Netherfield, and embracing her
                       most tenderly, she even shook hands with the former. Elizabeth took leave of the whole

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                       party in the liveliest of spirits.
                          They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother. Mrs. Bennet
                       wondered at their coming, and thought them very wrong to give so much trouble, and
                       was sure Jane would have caught cold again. But their father, though very laconic in his
                       expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; he had felt their importance in the
                       family circle. The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, had lost much
                       of its animation, and almost all its sense by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth.
                          They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough-bass and human nature;
                       and had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to
                       listen to. Catherine and Lydia had information for them of a different sort. Much had
                       been done and much had been said in the regiment since the preceding Wednesday;
                       several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle, a private had been flogged, and
                       it had actually been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.

                                                            Chapter 13
                         "I hope, my dear," said Mr. Bennet to his wife, as they were at breakfast the next
                       morning, "that you have ordered a good dinner to-day, because I have reason to expect
                       an addition to our family party."
                         "Who do you mean, my dear? I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure, unless
                       Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in—and I hope my dinners are good enough for
                       her. I do not believe she often sees such at home."
                          "The person of whom I speak is a gentleman, and a stranger."
                         Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled. "A gentleman and a stranger! It is Mr. Bingley, I am
                       sure! Well, I am sure I shall be extremely glad to see Mr. Bingley. But—good Lord!
                       how unlucky! There is not a bit of fish to be got to-day. Lydia, my love, ring the bell—I
                       must speak to Hill this moment."
                         "It is not Mr. Bingley," said her husband; "it is a person whom I never saw in the
                       whole course of my life."
                         This roused a general astonishment; and he had the pleasure of being eagerly
                       questioned by his wife and his five daughters at once.
                          After amusing himself some time with their curiosity, he thus explained:
                          "About a month ago I received this letter; and about a fortnight ago I answered it, for
                       I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention. It is from my cousin,
                       Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he
                          "Oh! my dear," cried his wife, "I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray do not talk
                       of that odious man. I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should
                       be entailed away from your own children; and I am sure, if I had been you, I should
                       have tried long ago to do something or other about it."

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                          Jane and Elizabeth tried to explain to her the nature of an entail. They had often
                       attempted to do it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs. Bennet was beyond the
                       reach of reason, and she continued to rail bitterly against the cruelty of settling an
                       estate away from a family of five daughters, in favour of a man whom nobody cared
                       anything about.
                         "It certainly is a most iniquitous affair," said Mr. Bennet, "and nothing can clear Mr.
                       Collins from the guilt of inheriting Longbourn. But if you will listen to his letter, you
                       may perhaps be a little softened by his manner of expressing himself."
                         "No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it is very impertinent of him to write to
                       you at all, and very hypocritical. I hate such false friends. Why could he not keep on
                       quarreling with you, as his father did before him?"
                         "Why, indeed; he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head, as you
                       will hear."
                          "Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent, 15th October.
                          "Dear Sir,—
                          "The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured father always
                       gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I have
                       frequently wished to heal the breach; but for some time I was kept back by my own
                       doubts, fearing lest it might seem disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good
                       terms with anyone with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance.—'There,
                       Mrs. Bennet.'—My mind, however, is now made up on the subject, for having received
                       ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of
                       the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh,
                       whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish,
                       where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean myself with grateful respect towards
                       her ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are
                       instituted by the Church of England. As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to
                       promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families within the reach of my
                       influence; and on these grounds I flatter myself that my present overtures are highly
                       commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn
                       estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the offered
                       olive-branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your
                       amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you of my
                       readiness to make them every possible amends—but of this hereafter. If you should
                       have no objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the satisfaction of
                       waiting on you and your family, Monday, November 18th, by four o'clock, and shall
                       probably trespass on your hospitality till the Saturday se'ennight following, which I can
                       do without any inconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my
                       occasional absence on a Sunday, provided that some other clergyman is engaged to do
                       the duty of the day.—I remain, dear sir, with respectful compliments to your lady and
                       daughters, your well-wisher and friend,

                                                       "WILLIAM COLLINS"

                         "At four o'clock, therefore, we may expect this peace-making gentleman," said Mr.
                       Bennet, as he folded up the letter. "He seems to be a most conscientious and polite
                       young man, upon my word, and I doubt not will prove a valuable acquaintance,

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                       especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again."
                          "There is some sense in what he says about the girls, however, and if he is disposed
                       to make them any amends, I shall not be the person to discourage him."
                          "Though it is difficult," said Jane, "to guess in what way he can mean to make us the
                       atonement he thinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit."
                          Elizabeth was chiefly struck by his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine, and
                       his kind intention of christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners whenever it
                       were required.
                         "He must be an oddity, I think," said she. "I cannot make him out.—There is
                       something very pompous in his style.—And what can he mean by apologising for being
                       next in the entail?—We cannot suppose he would help it if he could.—Could he be a
                       sensible man, sir?"
                          "No, my dear, I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There
                       is a mixture of servility and self-importance in his letter, which promises well. I am
                       impatient to see him."
                         "In point of composition," said Mary, "the letter does not seem defective. The idea of
                       the olive-branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well expressed."
                           To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree
                       interesting. It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and
                       it was now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in
                       any other colour. As for their mother, Mr. Collins's letter had done away much of her
                       ill-will, and she was preparing to see him with a degree of composure which astonished
                       her husband and daughters.
                         Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the
                       whole family. Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk,
                       and Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent
                       himself. He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty. His air was grave
                       and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been long seated before he
                       complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters; said he had heard
                       much of their beauty, but that in this instance fame had fallen short of the truth; and
                       added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time disposed of in marriage.
                       This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who
                       quarreled with no compliments, answered most readily.
                         "You are very kind, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so, for else
                       they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly."
                          "You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate."
                         "Ah! sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. Not
                       that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this world.
                       There is no knowing how estates will go when once they come to be entailed."
                         "I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much
                       on the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate. But I can
                       assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them. At present I will not say
                       more; but, perhaps, when we are better acquainted—"

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                          He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They
                       were not the only objects of Mr. Collins's admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all
                       its furniture, were examined and praised; and his commendation of everything would
                       have touched Mrs. Bennet's heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all
                       as his own future property. The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he
                       begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellency of its cooking was owing.
                       But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that
                       they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do
                       in the kitchen. He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she
                       declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of
                       an hour.

                                                          Chapter 14
                          During dinner, Mr. Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were
                       withdrawn, he thought it time to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore
                       started a subject in which he expected him to shine, by observing that he seemed very
                       fortunate in his patroness. Lady Catherine de Bourgh's attention to his wishes, and
                       consideration for his comfort, appeared very remarkable. Mr. Bennet could not have
                       chosen better. Mr. Collins was eloquent in her praise. The subject elevated him to more
                       than usual solemnity of manner, and with a most important aspect he protested that "he
                       had never in his life witnessed such behaviour in a person of rank—such affability and
                       condescension, as he had himself experienced from Lady Catherine. She had been
                       graciously pleased to approve of both of the discourses which he had already had the
                       honour of preaching before her. She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and
                       had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the
                       evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he had
                       never seen anything but affability in her. She had always spoken to him as she would to
                       any other gentleman; she made not the smallest objection to his joining in the society of
                       the neighbourhood nor to his leaving the parish occasionally for a week or two, to visit
                       his relations. She had even condescended to advise him to marry as soon as he could,
                       provided he chose with discretion; and had once paid him a visit in his humble
                       parsonage, where she had perfectly approved all the alterations he had been making,
                       and had even vouchsafed to suggest some herself—some shelves in the closet upstairs."
                         "That is all very proper and civil, I am sure," said Mrs. Bennet, "and I dare say she is
                       a very agreeable woman. It is a pity that great ladies in general are not more like her.
                       Does she live near you, sir?"
                         "The garden in which stands my humble abode is separated only by a lane from
                       Rosings Park, her ladyship's residence."
                          "I think you said she was a widow, sir? Has she any family?"
                          "She has only one daughter, the heiress of Rosings, and of very extensive property."
                         "Ah!" said Mrs. Bennet, shaking her head, "then she is better off than many girls.
                       And what sort of young lady is she? Is she handsome?"

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                         "She is a most charming young lady indeed. Lady Catherine herself says that, in point
                       of true beauty, Miss de Bourgh is far superior to the handsomest of her sex, because
                       there is that in her features which marks the young lady of distinguished birth. She is
                       unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which has prevented her from making that
                       progress in many accomplishments which she could not have otherwise failed of, as I
                       am informed by the lady who superintended her education, and who still resides with
                       them. But she is perfectly amiable, and often condescends to drive by my humble
                       abode in her little phaeton and ponies."
                          "Has she been presented? I do not remember her name among the ladies at court."
                          "Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that
                       means, as I told Lady Catherine one day, has deprived the British court of its brightest
                       ornaments. Her ladyship seemed pleased with the idea; and you may imagine that I am
                       happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always
                       acceptable to ladies. I have more than once observed to Lady Catherine, that her
                       charming daughter seemed born to be a duchess, and that the most elevated rank,
                       instead of giving her consequence, would be adorned by her. These are the kind of little
                       things which please her ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself
                       peculiarly bound to pay."
                          "You judge very properly," said Mr. Bennet, "and it is happy for you that you
                       possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing
                       attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous
                          "They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse
                       myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted
                       to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible."
                         Mr. Bennet's expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had
                       hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time
                       the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at
                       Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.
                          By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take
                       his guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to
                       read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but, on
                       beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library), he started
                       back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and
                       Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose
                       Fordyce's Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very
                       monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with:
                         "Do you know, mamma, that my uncle Phillips talks of turning away Richard; and if
                       he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall
                       walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes
                       back from town."
                          Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much
                       offended, laid aside his book, and said:
                          "I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious
                       stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for, certainly,

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                       there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer
                       importune my young cousin."
                          Then turning to Mr. Bennet, he offered himself as his antagonist at backgammon. Mr.
                       Bennet accepted the challenge, observing that he acted very wisely in leaving the girls
                       to their own trifling amusements. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters apologised most civilly
                       for Lydia's interruption, and promised that it should not occur again, if he would resume
                       his book; but Mr. Collins, after assuring them that he bore his young cousin no ill-will,
                       and should never resent her behaviour as any affront, seated himself at another table
                       with Mr. Bennet, and prepared for backgammon.

                                                            Chapter 15
                          Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little
                       assisted by education or society; the greatest part of his life having been spent under the
                       guidance of an illiterate and miserly father; and though he belonged to one of the
                       universities, he had merely kept the necessary terms, without forming at it any useful
                       acquaintance. The subjection in which his father had brought him up had given him
                       originally great humility of manner; but it was now a good deal counteracted by the
                       self-conceit of a weak head, living in retirement, and the consequential feelings of early
                       and unexpected prosperity. A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady
                       Catherine de Bourgh when the living of Hunsford was vacant; and the respect which he
                       felt for her high rank, and his veneration for her as his patroness, mingling with a very
                       good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman, and his right as a rector, made
                       him altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.
                          Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry; and in
                       seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as he meant
                       to choose one of the daughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were
                       represented by common report. This was his plan of amends—of atonement—for
                       inheriting their father's estate; and he thought it an excellent one, full of eligibility and
                       suitableness, and excessively generous and disinterested on his own part.
                          His plan did not vary on seeing them. Miss Bennet's lovely face confirmed his views,
                       and established all his strictest notions of what was due to seniority; and for the first
                       evening she was his settled choice. The next morning, however, made an alteration; for
                       in a quarter of an hour's tete-a-tete with Mrs. Bennet before breakfast, a conversation
                       beginning with his parsonage-house, and leading naturally to the avowal of his hopes,
                       that a mistress might be found for it at Longbourn, produced from her, amid very
                       complaisant smiles and general encouragement, a caution against the very Jane he had
                       fixed on. "As to her younger daughters, she could not take upon her to say—she could
                       not positively answer—but she did not know of any prepossession; her eldest daughter,
                       she must just mention—she felt it incumbent on her to hint, was likely to be very soon
                         Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth—and it was soon done—done
                       while Mrs. Bennet was stirring the fire. Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and
                       beauty, succeeded her of course.

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                         Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two
                       daughters married; and the man whom she could not bear to speak of the day before
                       was now high in her good graces.
                          Lydia's intention of walking to Meryton was not forgotten; every sister except Mary
                       agreed to go with her; and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennet,
                       who was most anxious to get rid of him, and have his library to himself; for thither Mr.
                       Collins had followed him after breakfast; and there he would continue, nominally
                       engaged with one of the largest folios in the collection, but really talking to Mr. Bennet,
                       with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr.
                       Bennet exceedingly. In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity;
                       and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other
                       room of the house, he was used to be free from them there; his civility, therefore, was
                       most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to join his daughters in their walk; and Mr. Collins,
                       being in fact much better fitted for a walker than a reader, was extremely pleased to
                       close his large book, and go.
                          In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of his cousins, their time
                       passed till they entered Meryton. The attention of the younger ones was then no longer
                       to be gained by him. Their eyes were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of
                       the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or a really new muslin in
                       a shop window, could recall them.
                          But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had
                       never seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with another officer on
                       the other side of the way. The officer was the very Mr. Denny concerning whose return
                       from London Lydia came to inquire, and he bowed as they passed. All were struck with
                       the stranger's air, all wondered who he could be; and Kitty and Lydia, determined if
                       possible to find out, led the way across the street, under pretense of wanting something
                       in an opposite shop, and fortunately had just gained the pavement when the two
                       gentlemen, turning back, had reached the same spot. Mr. Denny addressed them
                       directly, and entreated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham, who had
                       returned with him the day before from town, and he was happy to say had accepted a
                       commission in their corps. This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted
                       only regimentals to make him completely charming. His appearance was greatly in his
                       favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very
                       pleasing address. The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of
                       conversation—a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming; and the
                       whole party were still standing and talking together very agreeably, when the sound of
                       horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley were seen riding down the street. On
                       distinguishing the ladies of the group, the two gentlemen came directly towards them,
                       and began the usual civilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and Miss Bennet
                       the principal object. He was then, he said, on his way to Longbourn on purpose to
                       inquire after her. Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, and was beginning to determine
                       not to fix his eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by the sight of the
                       stranger, and Elizabeth happening to see the countenance of both as they looked at
                       each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the meeting. Both changed colour, one
                       looked white, the other red. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat—a
                       salutation which Mr. Darcy just deigned to return. What could be the meaning of it? It
                       was impossible to imagine; it was impossible not to long to know.
                          In another minute, Mr. Bingley, but without seeming to have noticed what passed,

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                       took leave and rode on with his friend.
                         Mr. Denny and Mr. Wickham walked with the young ladies to the door of Mr.
                       Phillip's house, and then made their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia's pressing entreaties
                       that they should come in, and even in spite of Mrs. Phillips's throwing up the parlour
                       window and loudly seconding the invitation.
                          Mrs. Phillips was always glad to see her nieces; and the two eldest, from their recent
                       absence, were particularly welcome, and she was eagerly expressing her surprise at
                       their sudden return home, which, as their own carriage had not fetched them, she
                       should have known nothing about, if she had not happened to see Mr. Jones's shop-boy
                       in the street, who had told her that they were not to send any more draughts to
                       Netherfield because the Miss Bennets were come away, when her civility was claimed
                       towards Mr. Collins by Jane's introduction of him. She received him with her very best
                       politeness, which he returned with as much more, apologising for his intrusion, without
                       any previous acquaintance with her, which he could not help flattering himself,
                       however, might be justified by his relationship to the young ladies who introduced him
                       to her notice. Mrs. Phillips was quite awed by such an excess of good breeding; but her
                       contemplation of one stranger was soon put to an end by exclamations and inquiries
                       about the other; of whom, however, she could only tell her nieces what they already
                       knew, that Mr. Denny had brought him from London, and that he was to have a
                       lieutenant's commission in the ——shire. She had been watching him the last hour, she
                       said, as he walked up and down the street, and had Mr. Wickham appeared, Kitty and
                       Lydia would certainly have continued the occupation, but unluckily no one passed
                       windows now except a few of the officers, who, in comparison with the stranger, were
                       become "stupid, disagreeable fellows." Some of them were to dine with the Phillipses
                       the next day, and their aunt promised to make her husband call on Mr. Wickham, and
                       give him an invitation also, if the family from Longbourn would come in the evening.
                       This was agreed to, and Mrs. Phillips protested that they would have a nice comfortable
                       noisy game of lottery tickets, and a little bit of hot supper afterwards. The prospect of
                       such delights was very cheering, and they parted in mutual good spirits. Mr. Collins
                       repeated his apologies in quitting the room, and was assured with unwearying civility
                       that they were perfectly needless.
                          As they walked home, Elizabeth related to Jane what she had seen pass between the
                       two gentlemen; but though Jane would have defended either or both, had they appeared
                       to be in the wrong, she could no more explain such behaviour than her sister.
                          Mr. Collins on his return highly gratified Mrs. Bennet by admiring Mrs. Phillips's
                       manners and politeness. He protested that, except Lady Catherine and her daughter, he
                       had never seen a more elegant woman; for she had not only received him with the
                       utmost civility, but even pointedly included him in her invitation for the next evening,
                       although utterly unknown to her before. Something, he supposed, might be attributed to
                       his connection with them, but yet he had never met with so much attention in the whole
                       course of his life.

                                                          Chapter 16

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                          As no objection was made to the young people's engagement with their aunt, and all
                       Mr. Collins's scruples of leaving Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for a single evening during his
                       visit were most steadily resisted, the coach conveyed him and his five cousins at a
                       suitable hour to Meryton; and the girls had the pleasure of hearing, as they entered the
                       drawing-room, that Mr. Wickham had accepted their uncle's invitation, and was then in
                       the house.
                          When this information was given, and they had all taken their seats, Mr. Collins was
                       at leisure to look around him and admire, and he was so much struck with the size and
                       furniture of the apartment, that he declared he might almost have supposed himself in
                       the small summer breakfast parlour at Rosings; a comparison that did not at first convey
                       much gratification; but when Mrs. Phillips understood from him what Rosings was, and
                       who was its proprietor—when she had listened to the description of only one of Lady
                       Catherine's drawing-rooms, and found that the chimney-piece alone had cost eight
                       hundred pounds, she felt all the force of the compliment, and would hardly have
                       resented a comparison with the housekeeper's room.
                          In describing to her all the grandeur of Lady Catherine and her mansion, with
                       occasional digressions in praise of his own humble abode, and the improvements it was
                       receiving, he was happily employed until the gentlemen joined them; and he found in
                       Mrs. Phillips a very attentive listener, whose opinion of his consequence increased with
                       what she heard, and who was resolving to retail it all among her neighbours as soon as
                       she could. To the girls, who could not listen to their cousin, and who had nothing to do
                       but to wish for an instrument, and examine their own indifferent imitations of china on
                       the mantelpiece, the interval of waiting appeared very long. It was over at last,
                       however. The gentlemen did approach, and when Mr. Wickham walked into the room,
                       Elizabeth felt that she had neither been seeing him before, nor thinking of him since,
                       with the smallest degree of unreasonable admiration. The officers of the ——shire were
                       in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set, and the best of them were of the present
                       party; but Mr. Wickham was as far beyond them all in person, countenance, air, and
                       walk, as they were superior to the broad-faced, stuffy uncle Phillips, breathing port
                       wine, who followed them into the room.
                          Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was
                       turned, and Elizabeth was the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself; and the
                       agreeable manner in which he immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on
                       its being a wet night, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic
                       might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker.
                         With such rivals for the notice of the fair as Mr. Wickham and the officers, Mr.
                       Collins seemed to sink into insignificance; to the young ladies he certainly was nothing;
                       but he had still at intervals a kind listener in Mrs. Phillips, and was by her watchfulness,
                       most abundantly supplied with coffee and muffin. When the card-tables were placed,
                       he had the opportunity of obliging her in turn, by sitting down to whist.
                         "I know little of the game at present," said he, "but I shall be glad to improve myself,
                       for in my situation in life—" Mrs. Phillips was very glad for his compliance, but could
                       not wait for his reason.
                         Mr. Wickham did not play at whist, and with ready delight was he received at the
                       other table between Elizabeth and Lydia. At first there seemed danger of Lydia's
                       engrossing him entirely, for she was a most determined talker; but being likewise
                       extremely fond of lottery tickets, she soon grew too much interested in the game, too

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                       eager in making bets and exclaiming after prizes to have attention for anyone in
                       particular. Allowing for the common demands of the game, Mr. Wickham was therefore
                       at leisure to talk to Elizabeth, and she was very willing to hear him, though what she
                       chiefly wished to hear she could not hope to be told—the history of his acquaintance
                       with Mr. Darcy. She dared not even mention that gentleman. Her curiosity, however,
                       was unexpectedly relieved. Mr. Wickham began the subject himself. He inquired how
                       far Netherfield was from Meryton; and, after receiving her answer, asked in a hesitating
                       manner how long Mr. Darcy had been staying there.
                         "About a month," said Elizabeth; and then, unwilling to let the subject drop, added,
                       "He is a man of very large property in Derbyshire, I understand."
                          "Yes," replied Mr. Wickham; "his estate there is a noble one. A clear ten thousand
                       per annum. You could not have met with a person more capable of giving you certain
                       information on that head than myself, for I have been connected with his family in a
                       particular manner from my infancy."
                          Elizabeth could not but look surprised.
                         "You may well be surprised, Miss Bennet, at such an assertion, after seeing, as you
                       probably might, the very cold manner of our meeting yesterday. Are you much
                       acquainted with Mr. Darcy?"
                          "As much as I ever wish to be," cried Elizabeth very warmly. "I have spent four days
                       in the same house with him, and I think him very disagreeable."
                          "I have no right to give my opinion," said Wickham, "as to his being agreeable or
                       otherwise. I am not qualified to form one. I have known him too long and too well to be
                       a fair judge. It is impossible for me to be impartial. But I believe your opinion of him
                       would in general astonish—and perhaps you would not express it quite so strongly
                       anywhere else. Here you are in your own family."
                          "Upon my word, I say no more here than I might say in any house in the
                       neighbourhood, except Netherfield. He is not at all liked in Hertfordshire. Everybody is
                       disgusted with his pride. You will not find him more favourably spoken of by anyone."
                          "I cannot pretend to be sorry," said Wickham, after a short interruption, "that he or
                       that any man should not be estimated beyond their deserts; but with him I believe it
                       does not often happen. The world is blinded by his fortune and consequence, or
                       frightened by his high and imposing manners, and sees him only as he chooses to be
                        "I should take him, even on my slight acquaintance, to be an ill-tempered man."
                       Wickham only shook his head.
                          "I wonder," said he, at the next opportunity of speaking, "whether he is likely to be in
                       this country much longer."
                         "I do not at all know; but I heard nothing of his going away when I was at
                       Netherfield. I hope your plans in favour of the ——shire will not be affected by his
                       being in the neighbourhood."
                         "Oh! no—it is not for me to be driven away by Mr. Darcy. If he wishes to avoid
                       seeing me, he must go. We are not on friendly terms, and it always gives me pain to
                       meet him, but I have no reason for avoiding him but what I might proclaim before all

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                       the world, a sense of very great ill-usage, and most painful regrets at his being what he
                       is. His father, Miss Bennet, the late Mr. Darcy, was one of the best men that ever
                       breathed, and the truest friend I ever had; and I can never be in company with this Mr.
                       Darcy without being grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections. His
                       behaviour to myself has been scandalous; but I verily believe I could forgive him
                       anything and everything, rather than his disappointing the hopes and disgracing the
                       memory of his father."
                         Elizabeth found the interest of the subject increase, and listened with all her heart;
                       but the delicacy of it prevented further inquiry.
                          Mr. Wickham began to speak on more general topics, Meryton, the neighbourhood,
                       the society, appearing highly pleased with all that he had yet seen, and speaking of the
                       latter with gentle but very intelligible gallantry.
                          "It was the prospect of constant society, and good society," he added, "which was
                       my chief inducement to enter the ——shire. I knew it to be a most respectable,
                       agreeable corps, and my friend Denny tempted me further by his account of their
                       present quarters, and the very great attentions and excellent acquaintances Meryton
                       had procured them. Society, I own, is necessary to me. I have been a disappointed man,
                       and my spirits will not bear solitude. I must have employment and society. A military
                       life is not what I was intended for, but circumstances have now made it eligible. The
                       church ought to have been my profession—I was brought up for the church, and I
                       should at this time have been in possession of a most valuable living, had it pleased the
                       gentleman we were speaking of just now."
                          "Yes—the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presentation of the best living in
                       his gift. He was my godfather, and excessively attached to me. I cannot do justice to his
                       kindness. He meant to provide for me amply, and thought he had done it; but when the
                       living fell, it was given elsewhere."
                          "Good heavens!" cried Elizabeth; "but how could that be? How could his will be
                       disregarded? Why did you not seek legal redress?"
                          "There was just such an informality in the terms of the bequest as to give me no hope
                       from law. A man of honour could not have doubted the intention, but Mr. Darcy chose
                       to doubt it—or to treat it as a merely conditional recommendation, and to assert that I
                       had forfeited all claim to it by extravagance, imprudence—in short anything or nothing.
                       Certain it is, that the living became vacant two years ago, exactly as I was of an age to
                       hold it, and that it was given to another man; and no less certain is it, that I cannot
                       accuse myself of having really done anything to deserve to lose it. I have a warm,
                       unguarded temper, and I may have spoken my opinion of him, and to him, too freely. I
                       can recall nothing worse. But the fact is, that we are very different sort of men, and that
                       he hates me."
                          "This is quite shocking! He deserves to be publicly disgraced."
                          "Some time or other he will be—but it shall not be by me. Till I can forget his father,
                       I can never defy or expose him."
                         Elizabeth honoured him for such feelings, and thought him handsomer than ever as
                       he expressed them.

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                          "But what," said she, after a pause, "can have been his motive? What can have
                       induced him to behave so cruelly?"
                         "A thorough, determined dislike of me—a dislike which I cannot but attribute in
                       some measure to jealousy. Had the late Mr. Darcy liked me less, his son might have
                       borne with me better; but his father's uncommon attachment to me irritated him, I
                       believe, very early in life. He had not a temper to bear the sort of competition in which
                       we stood—the sort of preference which was often given me."
                          "I had not thought Mr. Darcy so bad as this—though I have never liked him. I had
                       not thought so very ill of him. I had supposed him to be despising his fellow-creatures in
                       general, but did not suspect him of descending to such malicious revenge, such
                       injustice, such inhumanity as this."
                         After a few minutes' reflection, however, she continued, "I do remember his boasting
                       one day, at Netherfield, of the implacability of his resentments, of his having an
                       unforgiving temper. His disposition must be dreadful."
                         "I will not trust myself on the subject," replied Wickham; "I can hardly be just to
                         Elizabeth was again deep in thought, and after a time exclaimed, "To treat in such a
                       manner the godson, the friend, the favourite of his father!" She could have added, "A
                       young man, too, like you, whose very countenance may vouch for your being
                       amiable"—but she contented herself with, "and one, too, who had probably been his
                       companion from childhood, connected together, as I think you said, in the closest
                          "We were born in the same parish, within the same park; the greatest part of our
                       youth was passed together; inmates of the same house, sharing the same amusements,
                       objects of the same parental care. My father began life in the profession which your
                       uncle, Mr. Phillips, appears to do so much credit to—but he gave up everything to be of
                       use to the late Mr. Darcy and devoted all his time to the care of the Pemberley
                       property. He was most highly esteemed by Mr. Darcy, a most intimate, confidential
                       friend. Mr. Darcy often acknowledged himself to be under the greatest obligations to
                       my father's active superintendence, and when, immediately before my father's death,
                       Mr. Darcy gave him a voluntary promise of providing for me, I am convinced that he
                       felt it to be as much a debt of gratitude to him, as of his affection to myself."
                          "How strange!" cried Elizabeth. "How abominable! I wonder that the very pride of
                       this Mr. Darcy has not made him just to you! If from no better motive, that he should
                       not have been too proud to be dishonest—for dishonesty I must call it."
                          "It is wonderful," replied Wickham, "for almost all his actions may be traced to
                       pride; and pride had often been his best friend. It has connected him nearer with virtue
                       than with any other feeling. But we are none of us consistent, and in his behaviour to
                       me there were stronger impulses even than pride."
                          "Can such abominable pride as his have ever done him good?"
                          "Yes. It has often led him to be liberal and generous, to give his money freely, to
                       display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial
                       pride—for he is very proud of what his father was—have done this. Not to appear to
                       disgrace his family, to degenerate from the popular qualities, or lose the influence of the
                       Pemberley House, is a powerful motive. He has also brotherly pride, which, with some

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                       brotherly affection, makes him a very kind and careful guardian of his sister, and you
                       will hear him generally cried up as the most attentive and best of brothers."
                          "What sort of girl is Miss Darcy?"
                          He shook his head. "I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a
                       Darcy. But she is too much like her brother—very, very proud. As a child, she was
                       affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and
                       hours to her amusement. But she is nothing to me now. She is a handsome girl, about
                       fifteen or sixteen, and, I understand, highly accomplished. Since her father's death, her
                       home has been London, where a lady lives with her, and superintends her education."
                         After many pauses and many trials of other subjects, Elizabeth could not help
                       reverting once more to the first, and saying:
                         "I am astonished at his intimacy with Mr. Bingley! How can Mr. Bingley, who seems
                       good humour itself, and is, I really believe, truly amiable, be in friendship with such a
                       man? How can they suit each other? Do you know Mr. Bingley?"
                          "Not at all."
                          "He is a sweet-tempered, amiable, charming man. He cannot know what Mr. Darcy
                          "Probably not; but Mr. Darcy can please where he chooses. He does not want
                       abilities. He can be a conversible companion if he thinks it worth his while. Among
                       those who are at all his equals in consequence, he is a very different man from what he
                       is to the less prosperous. His pride never deserts him; but with the rich he is liberal-
                       minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and perhaps agreeable—allowing something
                       for fortune and figure."
                          The whist party soon afterwards breaking up, the players gathered round the other
                       table and Mr. Collins took his station between his cousin Elizabeth and Mrs. Phillips.
                       The usual inquiries as to his success was made by the latter. It had not been very great;
                       he had lost every point; but when Mrs. Phillips began to express her concern thereupon,
                       he assured her with much earnest gravity that it was not of the least importance, that he
                       considered the money as a mere trifle, and begged that she would not make herself
                          "I know very well, madam," said he, "that when persons sit down to a card-table,
                       they must take their chances of these things, and happily I am not in such
                       circumstances as to make five shillings any object. There are undoubtedly many who
                       could not say the same, but thanks to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I am removed far
                       beyond the necessity of regarding little matters."
                         Mr. Wickham's attention was caught; and after observing Mr. Collins for a few
                       moments, he asked Elizabeth in a low voice whether her relation was very intimately
                       acquainted with the family of de Bourgh.
                         "Lady Catherine de Bourgh," she replied, "has very lately given him a living. I hardly
                       know how Mr. Collins was first introduced to her notice, but he certainly has not
                       known her long."
                          "You know of course that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Anne Darcy were
                       sisters; consequently that she is aunt to the present Mr. Darcy."

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                         "No, indeed, I did not. I knew nothing at all of Lady Catherine's connections. I never
                       heard of her existence till the day before yesterday."
                         "Her daughter, Miss de Bourgh, will have a very large fortune, and it is believed that
                       she and her cousin will unite the two estates."
                          This information made Elizabeth smile, as she thought of poor Miss Bingley. Vain
                       indeed must be all her attentions, vain and useless her affection for his sister and her
                       praise of himself, if he were already self-destined for another.
                          "Mr. Collins," said she, "speaks highly both of Lady Catherine and her daughter; but
                       from some particulars that he has related of her ladyship, I suspect his gratitude
                       misleads him, and that in spite of her being his patroness, she is an arrogant, conceited
                          "I believe her to be both in a great degree," replied Wickham; "I have not seen her
                       for many years, but I very well remember that I never liked her, and that her manners
                       were dictatorial and insolent. She has the reputation of being remarkably sensible and
                       clever; but I rather believe she derives part of her abilities from her rank and fortune,
                       part from her authoritative manner, and the rest from the pride for her nephew, who
                       chooses that everyone connected with him should have an understanding of the first
                          Elizabeth allowed that he had given a very rational account of it, and they continued
                       talking together, with mutual satisfaction till supper put an end to cards, and gave the
                       rest of the ladies their share of Mr. Wickham's attentions. There could be no
                       conversation in the noise of Mrs. Phillips's supper party, but his manners recommended
                       him to everybody. Whatever he said, was said well; and whatever he did, done
                       gracefully. Elizabeth went away with her head full of him. She could think of nothing
                       but of Mr. Wickham, and of what he had told her, all the way home; but there was not
                       time for her even to mention his name as they went, for neither Lydia nor Mr. Collins
                       were once silent. Lydia talked incessantly of lottery tickets, of the fish she had lost and
                       the fish she had won; and Mr. Collins in describing the civility of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips,
                       protesting that he did not in the least regard his losses at whist, enumerating all the
                       dishes at supper, and repeatedly fearing that he crowded his cousins, had more to say
                       than he could well manage before the carriage stopped at Longbourn House.

                                                           Chapter 17
                          Elizabeth related to Jane the next day what had passed between Mr. Wickham and
                       herself. Jane listened with astonishment and concern; she knew not how to believe that
                       Mr. Darcy could be so unworthy of Mr. Bingley's regard; and yet, it was not in her
                       nature to question the veracity of a young man of such amiable appearance as
                       Wickham. The possibility of his having endured such unkindness, was enough to
                       interest all her tender feelings; and nothing remained therefore to be done, but to think
                       well of them both, to defend the conduct of each, and throw into the account of
                       accident or mistake whatever could not be otherwise explained.

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                         "They have both," said she, "been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of
                       which we can form no idea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the
                       other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which
                       may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side."
                         "Very true, indeed; and now, my dear Jane, what have you got to say on behalf of
                       the interested people who have probably been concerned in the business? Do clear
                       them too, or we shall be obliged to think ill of somebody."
                          "Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. My
                       dearest Lizzy, do but consider in what a disgraceful light it places Mr. Darcy, to be
                       treating his father's favourite in such a manner, one whom his father had promised to
                       provide for. It is impossible. No man of common humanity, no man who had any value
                       for his character, could be capable of it. Can his most intimate friends be so excessively
                       deceived in him? Oh! no."
                         "I can much more easily believe Mr. Bingley's being imposed on, than that Mr.
                       Wickham should invent such a history of himself as he gave me last night; names, facts,
                       everything mentioned without ceremony. If it be not so, let Mr. Darcy contradict it.
                       Besides, there was truth in his looks."
                          "It is difficult indeed—it is distressing. One does not know what to think."
                          "I beg your pardon; one knows exactly what to think."
                         But Jane could think with certainty on only one point—that Mr. Bingley, if he had
                       been imposed on, would have much to suffer when the affair became public.
                          The two young ladies were summoned from the shrubbery, where this conversation
                       passed, by the arrival of the very persons of whom they had been speaking; Mr. Bingley
                       and his sisters came to give their personal invitation for the long-expected ball at
                       Netherfield, which was fixed for the following Tuesday. The two ladies were delighted
                       to see their dear friend again, called it an age since they had met, and repeatedly asked
                       what she had been doing with herself since their separation. To the rest of the family
                       they paid little attention; avoiding Mrs. Bennet as much as possible, saying not much to
                       Elizabeth, and nothing at all to the others. They were soon gone again, rising from their
                       seats with an activity which took their brother by surprise, and hurrying off as if eager
                       to escape from Mrs. Bennet's civilities.
                          The prospect of the Netherfield ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the
                       family. Mrs. Bennet chose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter,
                       and was particularly flattered by receiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself,
                       instead of a ceremonious card. Jane pictured to herself a happy evening in the society
                       of her two friends, and the attentions of her brother; and Elizabeth thought with
                       pleasure of dancing a great deal with Mr. Wickham, and of seeing a confirmation of
                       everything in Mr. Darcy's look and behavior. The happiness anticipated by Catherine
                       and Lydia depended less on any single event, or any particular person, for though they
                       each, like Elizabeth, meant to dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no
                       means the only partner who could satisfy them, and a ball was, at any rate, a ball. And
                       even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for it.
                         "While I can have my mornings to myself," said she, "it is enough—I think it is no
                       sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I
                       profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as

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                       desirable for everybody."
                          Elizabeth's spirits were so high on this occasion, that though she did not often speak
                       unnecessarily to Mr. Collins, she could not help asking him whether he intended to
                       accept Mr. Bingley's invitation, and if he did, whether he would think it proper to join in
                       the evening's amusement; and she was rather surprised to find that he entertained no
                       scruple whatever on that head, and was very far from dreading a rebuke either from the
                       Archbishop, or Lady Catherine de Bourgh, by venturing to dance.
                          "I am by no means of the opinion, I assure you," said he, "that a ball of this kind,
                       given by a young man of character, to respectable people, can have any evil tendency;
                       and I am so far from objecting to dancing myself, that I shall hope to be honoured with
                       the hands of all my fair cousins in the course of the evening; and I take this opportunity
                       of soliciting yours, Miss Elizabeth, for the two first dances especially, a preference
                       which I trust my cousin Jane will attribute to the right cause, and not to any disrespect
                       for her."
                          Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in. She had fully proposed being engaged by
                       Mr. Wickham for those very dances; and to have Mr. Collins instead! her liveliness had
                       never been worse timed. There was no help for it, however. Mr. Wickham's happiness
                       and her own were perforce delayed a little longer, and Mr. Collins's proposal accepted
                       with as good a grace as she could. She was not the better pleased with his gallantry
                       from the idea it suggested of something more. It now first struck her, that she was
                       selected from among her sisters as worthy of being mistress of Hunsford Parsonage, and
                       of assisting to form a quadrille table at Rosings, in the absence of more eligible visitors.
                       The idea soon reached to conviction, as she observed his increasing civilities toward
                       herself, and heard his frequent attempt at a compliment on her wit and vivacity; and
                       though more astonished than gratified herself by this effect of her charms, it was not
                       long before her mother gave her to understand that the probability of their marriage was
                       extremely agreeable to her. Elizabeth, however, did not choose to take the hint, being
                       well aware that a serious dispute must be the consequence of any reply. Mr. Collins
                       might never make the offer, and till he did, it was useless to quarrel about him.
                          If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss
                       Bennets would have been in a very pitiable state at this time, for from the day of the
                       invitation, to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their
                       walking to Meryton once. No aunt, no officers, no news could be sought after—the
                       very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy. Even Elizabeth might have found
                       some trial of her patience in weather which totally suspended the improvement of her
                       acquaintance with Mr. Wickham; and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday, could have
                       made such a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday endurable to Kitty and Lydia.

                                                           Chapter 18
                         Till Elizabeth entered the drawing-room at Netherfield, and looked in vain for Mr.
                       Wickham among the cluster of red coats there assembled, a doubt of his being present
                       had never occurred to her. The certainty of meeting him had not been checked by any
                       of those recollections that might not unreasonably have alarmed her. She had dressed

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                       with more than usual care, and prepared in the highest spirits for the conquest of all that
                       remained unsubdued of his heart, trusting that it was not more than might be won in the
                       course of the evening. But in an instant arose the dreadful suspicion of his being
                       purposely omitted for Mr. Darcy's pleasure in the Bingleys' invitation to the officers;
                       and though this was not exactly the case, the absolute fact of his absence was
                       pronounced by his friend Denny, to whom Lydia eagerly applied, and who told them
                       that Wickham had been obliged to go to town on business the day before, and was not
                       yet returned; adding, with a significant smile, "I do not imagine his business would have
                       called him away just now, if he had not wanted to avoid a certain gentleman here."
                           This part of his intelligence, though unheard by Lydia, was caught by Elizabeth, and,
                       as it assured her that Darcy was not less answerable for Wickham's absence than if her
                       first surmise had been just, every feeling of displeasure against the former was so
                       sharpened by immediate disappointment, that she could hardly reply with tolerable
                       civility to the polite inquiries which he directly afterwards approached to make.
                       Attendance, forbearance, patience with Darcy, was injury to Wickham. She was
                       resolved against any sort of conversation with him, and turned away with a degree of
                       ill-humour which she could not wholly surmount even in speaking to Mr. Bingley,
                       whose blind partiality provoked her.
                          But Elizabeth was not formed for ill-humour; and though every prospect of her own
                       was destroyed for the evening, it could not dwell long on her spirits; and having told all
                       her griefs to Charlotte Lucas, whom she had not seen for a week, she was soon able to
                       make a voluntary transition to the oddities of her cousin, and to point him out to her
                       particular notice. The first two dances, however, brought a return of distress; they were
                       dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologising instead of
                       attending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the shame
                       and misery which a disagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment
                       of her release from him was ecstasy.
                          She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of Wickham, and
                       of hearing that he was universally liked. When those dances were over, she returned to
                       Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with her, when she found herself suddenly
                       addressed by Mr. Darcy who took her so much by surprise in his application for her
                       hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again
                       immediately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of mind; Charlotte
                       tried to console her:
                          "I dare say you will find him very agreeable."
                         "Heaven forbid! That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man
                       agreeable whom one is determined to hate! Do not wish me such an evil."
                          When the dancing recommenced, however, and Darcy approached to claim her hand,
                       Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper, not to be a simpleton, and allow
                       her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man ten times
                       his consequence. Elizabeth made no answer, and took her place in the set, amazed at
                       the dignity to which she was arrived in being allowed to stand opposite to Mr. Darcy,
                       and reading in her neighbours' looks, their equal amazement in beholding it. They stood
                       for some time without speaking a word; and she began to imagine that their silence was
                       to last through the two dances, and at first was resolved not to break it; till suddenly
                       fancying that it would be the greater punishment to her partner to oblige him to talk, she
                       made some slight observation on the dance. He replied, and was again silent. After a

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                       pause of some minutes, she addressed him a second time with:—"It is your turn to say
                       something now, Mr. Darcy. I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some sort
                       of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples."
                          He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said.
                          "Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps by and by I may observe that
                       private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. But now we may be silent."
                          "Do you talk by rule, then, while you are dancing?"
                          "Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely
                       silent for half an hour together; and yet for the advantage of some, conversation ought
                       to be so arranged, as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible."
                         "Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that
                       you are gratifying mine?"
                         "Both," replied Elizabeth archly; "for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn
                       of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak,
                       unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed
                       down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb."
                         "This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure," said he.
                       "How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait
                          "I must not decide on my own performance."
                         He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance,
                       when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton. She
                       answered in the affirmative, and, unable to resist the temptation, added, "When you
                       met us there the other day, we had just been forming a new acquaintance."
                          The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features, but he
                       said not a word, and Elizabeth, though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not
                       go on. At length Darcy spoke, and in a constrained manner said, "Mr. Wickham is
                       blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends—whether he may
                       be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain."
                         "He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship," replied Elizabeth with emphasis,
                       "and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life."
                         Darcy made no answer, and seemed desirous of changing the subject. At that
                       moment, Sir William Lucas appeared close to them, meaning to pass through the set to
                       the other side of the room; but on perceiving Mr. Darcy, he stopped with a bow of
                       superior courtesy to compliment him on his dancing and his partner.
                          "I have been most highly gratified indeed, my dear sir. Such very superior dancing is
                       not often seen. It is evident that you belong to the first circles. Allow me to say,
                       however, that your fair partner does not disgrace you, and that I must hope to have this
                       pleasure often repeated, especially when a certain desirable event, my dear Eliza
                       (glancing at her sister and Bingley) shall take place. What congratulations will then flow
                       in! I appeal to Mr. Darcy:—but let me not interrupt you, sir. You will not thank me for
                       detaining you from the bewitching converse of that young lady, whose bright eyes are
                       also upbraiding me."

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                          The latter part of this address was scarcely heard by Darcy; but Sir William's allusion
                       to his friend seemed to strike him forcibly, and his eyes were directed with a very
                       serious expression towards Bingley and Jane, who were dancing together. Recovering
                       himself, however, shortly, he turned to his partner, and said, "Sir William's interruption
                       has made me forget what we were talking of."
                         "I do not think we were speaking at all. Sir William could not have interrupted two
                       people in the room who had less to say for themselves. We have tried two or three
                       subjects already without success, and what we are to talk of next I cannot imagine."
                          "What think you of books?" said he, smiling.
                          "Books—oh! no. I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings."
                         "I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of
                       subject. We may compare our different opinions."
                          "No—I cannot talk of books in a ball-room; my head is always full of something
                         "The present always occupies you in such scenes—does it?" said he, with a look of
                          "Yes, always," she replied, without knowing what she said, for her thoughts had
                       wandered far from the subject, as soon afterwards appeared by her suddenly
                       exclaiming, "I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever
                       forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I
                       suppose, as to its being created."
                          "I am," said he, with a firm voice.
                          "And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?"
                          "I hope not."
                          "It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of
                       judging properly at first."
                          "May I ask to what these questions tend?"
                         "Merely to the illustration of your character," said she, endeavouring to shake off her
                       gravity. "I am trying to make it out."
                          "And what is your success?"
                         She shook her head. "I do not get on at all. I hear such different accounts of you as
                       puzzle me exceedingly."
                          "I can readily believe," answered he gravely, "that reports may vary greatly with
                       respect to me; and I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character
                       at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no
                       credit on either."
                          "But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another opportunity."
                         "I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours," he coldly replied. She said no
                       more, and they went down the other dance and parted in silence; and on each side

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                       dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree, for in Darcy's breast there was a tolerable
                       powerful feeling towards her, which soon procured her pardon, and directed all his
                       anger against another.
                         They had not long separated, when Miss Bingley came towards her, and with an
                       expression of civil disdain accosted her:
                          "So, Miss Eliza, I hear you are quite delighted with George Wickham! Your sister has
                       been talking to me about him, and asking me a thousand questions; and I find that the
                       young man quite forgot to tell you, among his other communication, that he was the son
                       of old Wickham, the late Mr. Darcy's steward. Let me recommend you, however, as a
                       friend, not to give implicit confidence to all his assertions; for as to Mr. Darcy's using
                       him ill, it is perfectly false; for, on the contrary, he has always been remarkably kind to
                       him, though George Wickham has treated Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner. I do
                       not know the particulars, but I know very well that Mr. Darcy is not in the least to
                       blame, that he cannot bear to hear George Wickham mentioned, and that though my
                       brother thought that he could not well avoid including him in his invitation to the
                       officers, he was excessively glad to find that he had taken himself out of the way. His
                       coming into the country at all is a most insolent thing, indeed, and I wonder how he
                       could presume to do it. I pity you, Miss Eliza, for this discovery of your favourite's
                       guilt; but really, considering his descent, one could not expect much better."
                         "His guilt and his descent appear by your account to be the same," said Elizabeth
                       angrily; "for I have heard you accuse him of nothing worse than of being the son of Mr.
                       Darcy's steward, and of that, I can assure you, he informed me himself."
                          "I beg your pardon," replied Miss Bingley, turning away with a sneer. "Excuse my
                       interference—it was kindly meant."
                          "Insolent girl!" said Elizabeth to herself. "You are much mistaken if you expect to
                       influence me by such a paltry attack as this. I see nothing in it but your own wilful
                       ignorance and the malice of Mr. Darcy." She then sought her eldest sister, who has
                       undertaken to make inquiries on the same subject of Bingley. Jane met her with a smile
                       of such sweet complacency, a glow of such happy expression, as sufficiently marked
                       how well she was satisfied with the occurrences of the evening. Elizabeth instantly read
                       her feelings, and at that moment solicitude for Wickham, resentment against his
                       enemies, and everything else, gave way before the hope of Jane's being in the fairest
                       way for happiness.
                         "I want to know," said she, with a countenance no less smiling than her sister's, "what
                       you have learnt about Mr. Wickham. But perhaps you have been too pleasantly
                       engaged to think of any third person; in which case you may be sure of my pardon."
                          "No," replied Jane, "I have not forgotten him; but I have nothing satisfactory to tell
                       you. Mr. Bingley does not know the whole of his history, and is quite ignorant of the
                       circumstances which have principally offended Mr. Darcy; but he will vouch for the
                       good conduct, the probity, and honour of his friend, and is perfectly convinced that Mr.
                       Wickham has deserved much less attention from Mr. Darcy than he has received; and I
                       am sorry to say by his account as well as his sister's, Mr. Wickham is by no means a
                       respectable young man. I am afraid he has been very imprudent, and has deserved to
                       lose Mr. Darcy's regard."
                          "Mr. Bingley does not know Mr. Wickham himself?"

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                          "No; he never saw him till the other morning at Meryton."
                         "This account then is what he has received from Mr. Darcy. I am satisfied. But what
                       does he say of the living?"
                         "He does not exactly recollect the circumstances, though he has heard them from Mr.
                       Darcy more than once, but he believes that it was left to him conditionally only."
                          "I have not a doubt of Mr. Bingley's sincerity," said Elizabeth warmly; "but you must
                       excuse my not being convinced by assurances only. Mr. Bingley's defense of his friend
                       was a very able one, I dare say; but since he is unacquainted with several parts of the
                       story, and has learnt the rest from that friend himself, I shall venture to still think of
                       both gentlemen as I did before."
                          She then changed the discourse to one more gratifying to each, and on which there
                       could be no difference of sentiment. Elizabeth listened with delight to the happy,
                       though modest hopes which Jane entertained of Mr. Bingley's regard, and said all in her
                       power to heighten her confidence in it. On their being joined by Mr. Bingley himself,
                       Elizabeth withdrew to Miss Lucas; to whose inquiry after the pleasantness of her last
                       partner she had scarcely replied, before Mr. Collins came up to them, and told her with
                       great exultation that he had just been so fortunate as to make a most important
                          "I have found out," said he, "by a singular accident, that there is now in the room a
                       near relation of my patroness. I happened to overhear the gentleman himself
                       mentioning to the young lady who does the honours of the house the names of his
                       cousin Miss de Bourgh, and of her mother Lady Catherine. How wonderfully these sort
                       of things occur! Who would have thought of my meeting with, perhaps, a nephew of
                       Lady Catherine de Bourgh in this assembly! I am most thankful that the discovery is
                       made in time for me to pay my respects to him, which I am now going to do, and trust
                       he will excuse my not having done it before. My total ignorance of the connection must
                       plead my apology."
                          "You are not going to introduce yourself to Mr. Darcy!"
                         "Indeed I am. I shall entreat his pardon for not having done it earlier. I believe him to
                       be Lady Catherine's nephew. It will be in my power to assure him that her ladyship was
                       quite well yesterday se'nnight."
                          Elizabeth tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme, assuring him that Mr.
                       Darcy would consider his addressing him without introduction as an impertinent
                       freedom, rather than a compliment to his aunt; that it was not in the least necessary
                       there should be any notice on either side; and that if it were, it must belong to Mr.
                       Darcy, the superior in consequence, to begin the acquaintance. Mr. Collins listened to
                       her with the determined air of following his own inclination, and, when she ceased
                       speaking, replied thus:
                          "My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world in your excellent
                       judgement in all matters within the scope of your understanding; but permit me to say,
                       that there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony
                       amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy; for, give me leave to observe
                       that I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the highest rank in the
                       kingdom—provided that a proper humility of behaviour is at the same time maintained.
                       You must therefore allow me to follow the dictates of my conscience on this occasion,

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                       which leads me to perform what I look on as a point of duty. Pardon me for neglecting
                       to profit by your advice, which on every other subject shall be my constant guide,
                       though in the case before us I consider myself more fitted by education and habitual
                       study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself." And with a low bow
                       he left her to attack Mr. Darcy, whose reception of his advances she eagerly watched,
                       and whose astonishment at being so addressed was very evident. Her cousin prefaced
                       his speech with a solemn bow and though she could not hear a word of it, she felt as if
                       hearing it all, and saw in the motion of his lips the words "apology," "Hunsford," and
                       "Lady Catherine de Bourgh." It vexed her to see him expose himself to such a man. Mr.
                       Darcy was eyeing him with unrestrained wonder, and when at last Mr. Collins allowed
                       him time to speak, replied with an air of distant civility. Mr. Collins, however, was not
                       discouraged from speaking again, and Mr. Darcy's contempt seemed abundantly
                       increasing with the length of his second speech, and at the end of it he only made him a
                       slight bow, and moved another way. Mr. Collins then returned to Elizabeth.
                          "I have no reason, I assure you," said he, "to be dissatisfied with my reception. Mr.
                       Darcy seemed much pleased with the attention. He answered me with the utmost
                       civility, and even paid me the compliment of saying that he was so well convinced of
                       Lady Catherine's discernment as to be certain she could never bestow a favour
                       unworthily. It was really a very handsome thought. Upon the whole, I am much pleased
                       with him."
                          As Elizabeth had no longer any interest of her own to pursue, she turned her
                       attention almost entirely on her sister and Mr. Bingley; and the train of agreeable
                       reflections which her observations gave birth to, made her perhaps almost as happy as
                       Jane. She saw her in idea settled in that very house, in all the felicity which a marriage
                       of true affection could bestow; and she felt capable, under such circumstances, of
                       endeavouring even to like Bingley's two sisters. Her mother's thoughts she plainly saw
                       were bent the same way, and she determined not to venture near her, lest she might
                       hear too much. When they sat down to supper, therefore, she considered it a most
                       unlucky perverseness which placed them within one of each other; and deeply was she
                       vexed to find that her mother was talking to that one person (Lady Lucas) freely,
                       openly, and of nothing else but her expectation that Jane would soon be married to Mr.
                       Bingley. It was an animating subject, and Mrs. Bennet seemed incapable of fatigue
                       while enumerating the advantages of the match. His being such a charming young man,
                       and so rich, and living but three miles from them, were the first points of
                       self-gratulation; and then it was such a comfort to think how fond the two sisters were
                       of Jane, and to be certain that they must desire the connection as much as she could do.
                       It was, moreover, such a promising thing for her younger daughters, as Jane's marrying
                       so greatly must throw them in the way of other rich men; and lastly, it was so pleasant
                       at her time of life to be able to consign her single daughters to the care of their sister,
                       that she might not be obliged to go into company more than she liked. It was necessary
                       to make this circumstance a matter of pleasure, because on such occasions it is the
                       etiquette; but no one was less likely than Mrs. Bennet to find comfort in staying home
                       at any period of her life. She concluded with many good wishes that Lady Lucas might
                       soon be equally fortunate, though evidently and triumphantly believing there was no
                       chance of it.
                         In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her mother's words, or
                       persuade her to describe her felicity in a less audible whisper; for, to her inexpressible
                       vexation, she could perceive that the chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy, who sat
                       opposite to them. Her mother only scolded her for being nonsensical.

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                         "What is Mr. Darcy to me, pray, that I should be afraid of him? I am sure we owe
                       him no such particular civility as to be obliged to say nothing he may not like to hear."
                        "For heaven's sake, madam, speak lower. What advantage can it be for you to offend
                       Mr. Darcy? You will never recommend yourself to his friend by so doing!"
                          Nothing that she could say, however, had any influence. Her mother would talk of
                       her views in the same intelligible tone. Elizabeth blushed and blushed again with shame
                       and vexation. She could not help frequently glancing her eye at Mr. Darcy, though
                       every glance convinced her of what she dreaded; for though he was not always looking
                       at her mother, she was convinced that his attention was invariably fixed by her. The
                       expression of his face changed gradually from indignant contempt to a composed and
                       steady gravity.
                          At length, however, Mrs. Bennet had no more to say; and Lady Lucas, who had been
                       long yawning at the repetition of delights which she saw no likelihood of sharing, was
                       left to the comforts of cold ham and chicken. Elizabeth now began to revive. But not
                       long was the interval of tranquillity; for, when supper was over, singing was talked of,
                       and she had the mortification of seeing Mary, after very little entreaty, preparing to
                       oblige the company. By many significant looks and silent entreaties, did she endeavour
                       to prevent such a proof of complaisance, but in vain; Mary would not understand them;
                       such an opportunity of exhibiting was delightful to her, and she began her song.
                       Elizabeth's eyes were fixed on her with most painful sensations, and she watched her
                       progress through the several stanzas with an impatience which was very ill rewarded at
                       their close; for Mary, on receiving, amongst the thanks of the table, the hint of a hope
                       that she might be prevailed on to favour them again, after the pause of half a minute
                       began another. Mary's powers were by no means fitted for such a display; her voice
                       was weak, and her manner affected. Elizabeth was in agonies. She looked at Jane, to
                       see how she bore it; but Jane was very composedly talking to Bingley. She looked at his
                       two sisters, and saw them making signs of derision at each other, and at Darcy, who
                       continued, however, imperturbably grave. She looked at her father to entreat his
                       interference, lest Mary should be singing all night. He took the hint, and when Mary
                       had finished her second song, said aloud, "That will do extremely well, child. You have
                       delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit."
                         Mary, though pretending not to hear, was somewhat disconcerted; and Elizabeth,
                       sorry for her, and sorry for her father's speech, was afraid her anxiety had done no
                       good. Others of the party were now applied to.
                          "If I," said Mr. Collins, "were so fortunate as to be able to sing, I should have great
                       pleasure, I am sure, in obliging the company with an air; for I consider music as a very
                       innocent diversion, and perfectly compatible with the profession of a clergyman. I do
                       not mean, however, to assert that we can be justified in devoting too much of our time
                       to music, for there are certainly other things to be attended to. The rector of a parish
                       has much to do. In the first place, he must make such an agreement for tithes as may be
                       beneficial to himself and not offensive to his patron. He must write his own sermons;
                       and the time that remains will not be too much for his parish duties, and the care and
                       improvement of his dwelling, which he cannot be excused from making as comfortable
                       as possible. And I do not think it of light importance that he should have attentive and
                       conciliatory manner towards everybody, especially towards those to whom he owes his
                       preferment. I cannot acquit him of that duty; nor could I think well of the man who
                       should omit an occasion of testifying his respect towards anybody connected with the
                       family." And with a bow to Mr. Darcy, he concluded his speech, which had been

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                       spoken so loud as to be heard by half the room. Many stared—many smiled; but no one
                       looked more amused than Mr. Bennet himself, while his wife seriously commended Mr.
                       Collins for having spoken so sensibly, and observed in a half-whisper to Lady Lucas,
                       that he was a remarkably clever, good kind of young man.
                         To Elizabeth it appeared that, had her family made an agreement to expose
                       themselves as much as they could during the evening, it would have been impossible for
                       them to play their parts with more spirit or finer success; and happy did she think it for
                       Bingley and her sister that some of the exhibition had escaped his notice, and that his
                       feelings were not of a sort to be much distressed by the folly which he must have
                       witnessed. That his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, however, should have such an
                       opportunity of ridiculing her relations, was bad enough, and she could not determine
                       whether the silent contempt of the gentleman, or the insolent smiles of the ladies, were
                       more intolerable.
                          The rest of the evening brought her little amusement. She was teased by Mr. Collins,
                       who continued most perseveringly by her side, and though he could not prevail on her
                       to dance with him again, put it out of her power to dance with others. In vain did she
                       entreat him to stand up with somebody else, and offer to introduce him to any young
                       lady in the room. He assured her, that as to dancing, he was perfectly indifferent to it;
                       that his chief object was by delicate attentions to recommend himself to her and that he
                       should therefore make a point of remaining close to her the whole evening. There was
                       no arguing upon such a project. She owed her greatest relief to her friend Miss Lucas,
                       who often joined them, and good-naturedly engaged Mr. Collins's conversation to
                          She was at least free from the offense of Mr. Darcy's further notice; though often
                       standing within a very short distance of her, quite disengaged, he never came near
                       enough to speak. She felt it to be the probable consequence of her allusions to Mr.
                       Wickham, and rejoiced in it.
                          The Longbourn party were the last of all the company to depart, and, by a
                       manoeuvre of Mrs. Bennet, had to wait for their carriage a quarter of an hour after
                       everybody else was gone, which gave them time to see how heartily they were wished
                       away by some of the family. Mrs. Hurst and her sister scarcely opened their mouths,
                       except to complain of fatigue, and were evidently impatient to have the house to
                       themselves. They repulsed every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation, and by so
                       doing threw a languor over the whole party, which was very little relieved by the long
                       speeches of Mr. Collins, who was complimenting Mr. Bingley and his sisters on the
                       elegance of their entertainment, and the hospitality and politeness which had marked
                       their behaviour to their guests. Darcy said nothing at all. Mr. Bennet, in equal silence,
                       was enjoying the scene. Mr. Bingley and Jane were standing together, a little detached
                       from the rest, and talked only to each other. Elizabeth preserved as steady a silence as
                       either Mrs. Hurst or Miss Bingley; and even Lydia was too much fatigued to utter more
                       than the occasional exclamation of "Lord, how tired I am!" accompanied by a violent
                         When at length they arose to take leave, Mrs. Bennet was most pressingly civil in her
                       hope of seeing the whole family soon at Longbourn, and addressed herself especially to
                       Mr. Bingley, to assure him how happy he would make them by eating a family dinner
                       with them at any time, without the ceremony of a formal invitation. Bingley was all
                       grateful pleasure, and he readily engaged for taking the earliest opportunity of waiting
                       on her, after his return from London, whither he was obliged to go the next day for a

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                       short time.
                         Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied, and quitted the house under the delightful
                       persuasion that, allowing for the necessary preparations of settlements, new carriages,
                       and wedding clothes, she should undoubtedly see her daughter settled at Netherfield in
                       the course of three or four months. Of having another daughter married to Mr. Collins,
                       she thought with equal certainty, and with considerable, though not equal, pleasure.
                       Elizabeth was the least dear to her of all her children; and though the man and the
                       match were quite good enough for her, the worth of each was eclipsed by Mr. Bingley
                       and Netherfield.

                                                          Chapter 19
                          The next day opened a new scene at Longbourn. Mr. Collins made his declaration in
                       form. Having resolved to do it without loss of time, as his leave of absence extended
                       only to the following Saturday, and having no feelings of diffidence to make it
                       distressing to himself even at the moment, he set about it in a very orderly manner, with
                       all the observances, which he supposed a regular part of the business. On finding Mrs.
                       Bennet, Elizabeth, and one of the younger girls together, soon after breakfast, he
                       addressed the mother in these words:
                          "May I hope, madam, for your interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I
                       solicit for the honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning?"
                          Before Elizabeth had time for anything but a blush of surprise, Mrs. Bennet answered
                       instantly, "Oh dear!—yes—certainly. I am sure Lizzy will be very happy—I am sure
                       she can have no objection. Come, Kitty, I want you upstairs." And, gathering her work
                       together, she was hastening away, when Elizabeth called out:
                         "Dear madam, do not go. I beg you will not go. Mr. Collins must excuse me. He can
                       have nothing to say to me that anybody need not hear. I am going away myself."
                          "No, no, nonsense, Lizzy. I desire you to stay where you are." And upon Elizabeth's
                       seeming really, with vexed and embarrassed looks, about to escape, she added: "Lizzy,
                       I insist upon your staying and hearing Mr. Collins."
                         Elizabeth would not oppose such an injunction—and a moment's consideration
                       making her also sensible that it would be wisest to get it over as soon and as quietly as
                       possible, she sat down again and tried to conceal, by incessant employment the feelings
                       which were divided between distress and diversion. Mrs. Bennet and Kitty walked off,
                       and as soon as they were gone, Mr. Collins began.
                          "Believe me, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that your modesty, so far from doing you any
                       disservice, rather adds to your other perfections. You would have been less amiable in
                       my eyes had there not been this little unwillingness; but allow me to assure you, that I
                       have your respected mother's permission for this address. You can hardly doubt the
                       purport of my discourse, however your natural delicacy may lead you to dissemble; my
                       attentions have been too marked to be mistaken. Almost as soon as I entered the house,
                       I singled you out as the companion of my future life. But before I am run away with by

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                       my feelings on this subject, perhaps it would be advisable for me to state my reasons for
                       marrying—and, moreover, for coming into Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a
                       wife, as I certainly did."
                          The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being run away with by his
                       feelings, made Elizabeth so near laughing, that she could not use the short pause he
                       allowed in any attempt to stop him further, and he continued:
                          "My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in
                       easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish;
                       secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly
                       —which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and
                       recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness.
                       Twice has she condescended to give me her opinion (unasked too!) on this subject; and
                       it was but the very Saturday night before I left Hunsford—between our pools at
                       quadrille, while Mrs. Jenkinson was arranging Miss de Bourgh's footstool, that she said,
                       'Mr. Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry. Choose properly,
                       choose a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort
                       of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way. This is
                       my advice. Find such a woman as soon as you can, bring her to Hunsford, and I will
                       visit her.' Allow me, by the way, to observe, my fair cousin, that I do not reckon the
                       notice and kindness of Lady Catherine de Bourgh as among the least of the advantages
                       in my power to offer. You will find her manners beyond anything I can describe; and
                       your wit and vivacity, I think, must be acceptable to her, especially when tempered
                       with the silence and respect which her rank will inevitably excite. Thus much for my
                       general intention in favour of matrimony; it remains to be told why my views were
                       directed towards Longbourn instead of my own neighbourhood, where I can assure you
                       there are many amiable young women. But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this
                       estate after the death of your honoured father (who, however, may live many years
                       longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his
                       daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy
                       event takes place—which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several
                       years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me
                       in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most
                       animated language of the violence of my affection. To fortune I am perfectly
                       indifferent, and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I am well
                       aware that it could not be complied with; and that one thousand pounds in the four per
                       cents, which will not be yours till after your mother's decease, is all that you may ever
                       be entitled to. On that head, therefore, I shall be uniformly silent; and you may assure
                       yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass my lips when we are married."
                          It was absolutely necessary to interrupt him now.
                         "You are too hasty, sir," she cried. "You forget that I have made no answer. Let me
                       do it without further loss of time. Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying
                       me. I am very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do
                       otherwise than to decline them."
                          "I am not now to learn," replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, "that it
                       is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean
                       to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is
                       repeated a second, or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by
                       what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long."

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                          "Upon my word, sir," cried Elizabeth, "your hope is a rather extraordinary one after
                       my declaration. I do assure you that I am not one of those young ladies (if such young
                       ladies there are) who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of being
                       asked a second time. I am perfectly serious in my refusal. You could not make me
                       happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who could make you
                       so. Nay, were your friend Lady Catherine to know me, I am persuaded she would find
                       me in every respect ill qualified for the situation."
                          "Were it certain that Lady Catherine would think so," said Mr. Collins very
                       gravely—"but I cannot imagine that her ladyship would at all disapprove of you. And
                       you may be certain when I have the honour of seeing her again, I shall speak in the very
                       highest terms of your modesty, economy, and other amiable qualification."
                          "Indeed, Mr. Collins, all praise of me will be unnecessary. You must give me leave to
                       judge for myself, and pay me the compliment of believing what I say. I wish you very
                       happy and very rich, and by refusing your hand, do all in my power to prevent your
                       being otherwise. In making me the offer, you must have satisfied the delicacy of your
                       feelings with regard to my family, and may take possession of Longbourn estate
                       whenever it falls, without any self-reproach. This matter may be considered, therefore,
                       as finally settled." And rising as she thus spoke, she would have quitted the room, had
                       Mr. Collins not thus addressed her:
                         "When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on the subject, I shall hope to
                       receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me; though I am far from
                       accusing you of cruelty at present, because I know it to be the established custom of
                       your sex to reject a man on the first application, and perhaps you have even now said as
                       much to encourage my suit as would be consistent with the true delicacy of the female
                          "Really, Mr. Collins," cried Elizabeth with some warmth, "you puzzle me
                       exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear to you in the form of
                       encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as to convince you
                       of its being one."
                          "You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your refusal of my
                       addresses is merely words of course. My reasons for believing it are briefly these: It
                       does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the
                       establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable. My situation in life,
                       my connections with the family of de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are
                       circumstances highly in my favour; and you should take it into further consideration,
                       that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of
                       marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all
                       likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must
                       therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall choose to
                       attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual
                       practice of elegant females."
                          "I do assure you, sir, that I have no pretensions whatever to that kind of elegance
                       which consists in tormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment
                       of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me
                       in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every
                       respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female,
                       intending to plague you, but as a rational creature, speaking the truth from her heart."

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                         "You are uniformly charming!" cried he, with an air of awkward gallantry; "and I am
                       persuaded that when sanctioned by the express authority of both your excellent
                       parents, my proposals will not fail of being acceptable."
                         To such perseverance in wilful self-deception Elizabeth would make no reply, and
                       immediately and in silence withdrew; determined, if he persisted in considering her
                       repeated refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her father, whose negative
                       might be uttered in such a manner as to be decisive, and whose behavior at least could
                       not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female.

                                                           Chapter 20
                          Mr. Collins was not left long to the silent contemplation of his successful love; for
                       Mrs. Bennet, having dawdled about in the vestibule to watch for the end of the
                       conference, no sooner saw Elizabeth open the door and with quick step pass her
                       towards the staircase, than she entered the breakfast-room, and congratulated both him
                       and herself in warm terms on the happy prospect or their nearer connection. Mr. Collins
                       received and returned these felicitations with equal pleasure, and then proceeded to
                       relate the particulars of their interview, with the result of which he trusted he had every
                       reason to be satisfied, since the refusal which his cousin had steadfastly given him
                       would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the genuine delicacy of her
                         This information, however, startled Mrs. Bennet; she would have been glad to be
                       equally satisfied that her daughter had meant to encourage him by protesting against his
                       proposals, but she dared not believe it, and could not help saying so.
                          "But, depend upon it, Mr. Collins," she added, "that Lizzy shall be brought to reason.
                       I will speak to her about it directly. She is a very headstrong, foolish girl, and does not
                       know her own interest but I will make her know it."
                         "Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins; "but if she is really
                       headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable
                       wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If
                       therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force
                       her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not
                       contribute much to my felicity."
                         "Sir, you quite misunderstand me," said Mrs. Bennet, alarmed. "Lizzy is only
                       headstrong in such matters as these. In everything else she is as good-natured a girl as
                       ever lived. I will go directly to Mr. Bennet, and we shall very soon settle it with her, I
                       am sure."
                          She would not give him time to reply, but hurrying instantly to her husband, called
                       out as she entered the library, "Oh! Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all
                       in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will
                       not have him, and if you do not make haste he will change his mind and not have her."
                          Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and fixed them on her face

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                       with a calm unconcern which was not in the least altered by her communication.
                         "I have not the pleasure of understanding you," said he, when she had finished her
                       speech. "Of what are you talking?"
                         "Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have Mr. Collins, and Mr.
                       Collins begins to say that he will not have Lizzy."
                          "And what am I to do on the occasion? It seems an hopeless business."
                          "Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon her marrying him."
                          "Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion."
                          Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library.
                          "Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an
                       affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage.
                       Is it true?" Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well—and this offer of marriage you
                       have refused?"
                          "I have, sir."
                          "Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is
                       it not so, Mrs. Bennet?"
                          "Yes, or I will never see her again."
                          "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a
                       stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not
                       marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."
                         Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a beginning, but Mrs.
                       Bennet, who had persuaded herself that her husband regarded the affair as she wished,
                       was excessively disappointed.
                         "What do you mean, Mr. Bennet, in talking this way? You promised me to insist
                       upon her marrying him."
                          "My dear," replied her husband, "I have two small favours to request. First, that you
                       will allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion; and secondly,
                       of my room. I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be."
                          Not yet, however, in spite of her disappointment in her husband, did Mrs. Bennet
                       give up the point. She talked to Elizabeth again and again; coaxed and threatened her
                       by turns. She endeavoured to secure Jane in her interest; but Jane, with all possible
                       mildness, declined interfering; and Elizabeth, sometimes with real earnestness, and
                       sometimes with playful gaiety, replied to her attacks. Though her manner varied,
                       however, her determination never did.
                         Mr. Collins, meanwhile, was meditating in solitude on what had passed. He thought
                       too well of himself to comprehend on what motives his cousin could refuse him; and
                       though his pride was hurt, he suffered in no other way. His regard for her was quite
                       imaginary; and the possibility of her deserving her mother's reproach prevented his
                       feeling any regret.
                          While the family were in this confusion, Charlotte Lucas came to spend the day with

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                       them. She was met in the vestibule by Lydia, who, flying to her, cried in a half whisper,
                       "I am glad you are come, for there is such fun here! What do you think has happened
                       this morning? Mr. Collins has made an offer to Lizzy, and she will not have him."
                          Charlotte hardly had time to answer, before they were joined by Kitty, who came to
                       tell the same news; and no sooner had they entered the breakfast-room, where Mrs.
                       Bennet was alone, than she likewise began on the subject, calling on Miss Lucas for her
                       compassion, and entreating her to persuade her friend Lizzy to comply with the wishes
                       of all her family. "Pray do, my dear Miss Lucas," she added in a melancholy tone, "for
                       nobody is on my side, nobody takes part with me. I am cruelly used, nobody feels for
                       my poor nerves."
                          Charlotte's reply was spared by the entrance of Jane and Elizabeth.
                          "Aye, there she comes," continued Mrs. Bennet, "looking as unconcerned as may be,
                       and caring no more for us than if we were at York, provided she can have her own way.
                       But I tell you, Miss Lizzy—if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of
                       marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all—and I am sure I do not know
                       who is to maintain you when your father is dead. I shall not be able to keep you—and
                       so I warn you. I have done with you from this very day. I told you in the library, you
                       know, that I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good as my word.
                       I have no pleasure in talking to undutiful children. Not that I have much pleasure,
                       indeed, in talking to anybody. People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints can
                       have no great inclination for talking. Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so.
                       Those who do not complain are never pitied."
                          Her daughters listened in silence to this effusion, sensible that any attempt to reason
                       with her or soothe her would only increase the irritation. She talked on, therefore,
                       without interruption from any of them, till they were joined by Mr. Collins, who entered
                       the room with an air more stately than usual, and on perceiving whom, she said to the
                       girls, "Now, I do insist upon it, that you, all of you, hold your tongues, and let me and
                       Mr. Collins have a little conversation together."
                         Elizabeth passed quietly out of the room, Jane and Kitty followed, but Lydia stood
                       her ground, determined to hear all she could; and Charlotte, detained first by the civility
                       of Mr. Collins, whose inquiries after herself and all her family were very minute, and
                       then by a little curiosity, satisfied herself with walking to the window and pretending
                       not to hear. In a doleful voice Mrs. Bennet began the projected conversation: "Oh! Mr.
                         "My dear madam," replied he, "let us be for ever silent on this point. Far be it from
                       me," he presently continued, in a voice that marked his displeasure, "to resent the
                       behaviour of your daughter. Resignation to inevitable evils is the evil duty of us all; the
                       peculiar duty of a young man who has been so fortunate as I have been in early
                       preferment; and I trust I am resigned. Perhaps not the less so from feeling a doubt of
                       my positive happiness had my fair cousin honoured me with her hand; for I have often
                       observed that resignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose
                       somewhat of its value in our estimation. You will not, I hope, consider me as showing
                       any disrespect to your family, my dear madam, by thus withdrawing my pretensions to
                       your daughter's favour, without having paid yourself and Mr. Bennet the compliment of
                       requesting you to interpose your authority in my behalf. My conduct may, I fear, be
                       objectionable in having accepted my dismission from your daughter's lips instead of
                       your own. But we are all liable to error. I have certainly meant well through the whole

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                       affair. My object has been to secure an amiable companion for myself, with due
                       consideration for the advantage of all your family, and if my manner has been at all
                       reprehensible, I here beg leave to apologise."

                                                           Chapter 21
                          The discussion of Mr. Collins's offer was now nearly at an end, and Elizabeth had
                       only to suffer from the uncomfortable feelings necessarily attending it, and occasionally
                       from some peevish allusions of her mother. As for the gentleman himself, his feelings
                       were chiefly expressed, not by embarrassment or dejection, or by trying to avoid her,
                       but by stiffness of manner and resentful silence. He scarcely ever spoke to her, and the
                       assiduous attentions which he had been so sensible of himself were transferred for the
                       rest of the day to Miss Lucas, whose civility in listening to him was a seasonable relief
                       to them all, and especially to her friend.
                          The morrow produced no abatement of Mrs. Bennet's ill-humour or ill health. Mr.
                       Collins was also in the same state of angry pride. Elizabeth had hoped that his
                       resentment might shorten his visit, but his plan did not appear in the least affected by it.
                       He was always to have gone on Saturday, and to Saturday he meant to stay.
                          After breakfast, the girls walked to Meryton to inquire if Mr. Wickham were
                       returned, and to lament over his absence from the Netherfield ball. He joined them on
                       their entering the town, and attended them to their aunt's where his regret and vexation,
                       and the concern of everybody, was well talked over. To Elizabeth, however, he
                       voluntarily acknowledged that the necessity of his absence had been self-imposed.
                          "I found," said he, "as the time drew near that I had better not meet Mr. Darcy; that
                       to be in the same room, the same party with him for so many hours together, might be
                       more than I could bear, and that scenes might arise unpleasant to more than myself."
                          She highly approved his forbearance, and they had leisure for a full discussion of it,
                       and for all the commendation which they civilly bestowed on each other, as Wickham
                       and another officer walked back with them to Longbourn, and during the walk he
                       particularly attended to her. His accompanying them was a double advantage; she felt
                       all the compliment it offered to herself, and it was most acceptable as an occasion of
                       introducing him to her father and mother.
                         Soon after their return, a letter was delivered to Miss Bennet; it came from
                       Netherfield. The envelope contained a sheet of elegant, little, hot-pressed paper, well
                       covered with a lady's fair, flowing hand; and Elizabeth saw her sister's countenance
                       change as she read it, and saw her dwelling intently on some particular passages. Jane
                       recollected herself soon, and putting the letter away, tried to join with her usual
                       cheerfulness in the general conversation; but Elizabeth felt an anxiety on the subject
                       which drew off her attention even from Wickham; and no sooner had he and his
                       companion taken leave, than a glance from Jane invited her to follow her upstairs.
                       When they had gained their own room, Jane, taking out the letter, said:
                          "This is from Caroline Bingley; what it contains has surprised me a good deal. The

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                       whole party have left Netherfield by this time, and are on their way to town—and
                       without any intention of coming back again. You shall hear what she says."
                          She then read the first sentence aloud, which comprised the information of their
                       having just resolved to follow their brother to town directly, and of their meaning to
                       dine in Grosvenor Street, where Mr. Hurst had a house. The next was in these words: "I
                       do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire, except your society, my
                       dearest friend; but we will hope, at some future period, to enjoy many returns of that
                       delightful intercourse we have known, and in the meanwhile may lessen the pain of
                       separation by a very frequent and most unreserved correspondence. I depend on you
                       for that." To these highflown expressions Elizabeth listened with all the insensibility of
                       distrust; and though the suddenness of their removal surprised her, she saw nothing in it
                       really to lament; it was not to be supposed that their absence from Netherfield would
                       prevent Mr. Bingley's being there; and as to the loss of their society, she was persuaded
                       that Jane must cease to regard it, in the enjoyment of his.
                          "It is unlucky," said she, after a short pause, "that you should not be able to see your
                       friends before they leave the country. But may we not hope that the period of future
                       happiness to which Miss Bingley looks forward may arrive earlier than she is aware,
                       and that the delightful intercourse you have known as friends will be renewed with yet
                       greater satisfaction as sisters? Mr. Bingley will not be detained in London by them."
                         "Caroline decidedly says that none of the party will return into Hertfordshire this
                       winter. I will read it to you:"
                          "When my brother left us yesterday, he imagined that the business which took him to
                       London might be concluded in three or four days; but as we are certain it cannot be so,
                       and at the same time convinced that when Charles gets to town he will be in no hurry to
                       leave it again, we have determined on following him thither, that he may not be obliged
                       to spend his vacant hours in a comfortless hotel. Many of my acquaintances are already
                       there for the winter; I wish that I could hear that you, my dearest friend, had any
                       intention of making one of the crowd—but of that I despair. I sincerely hope your
                       Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally
                       brings, and that your beaux will be so numerous as to prevent your feeling the loss of
                       the three of whom we shall deprive you."
                          "It is evident by this," added Jane, "that he comes back no more this winter."
                          "It is only evident that Miss Bingley does not mean that he should."
                          "Why will you think so? It must be his own doing. He is his own master. But you do
                       not know all. I will read you the passage which particularly hurts me. I will have no
                       reserves from you."
                          "Mr. Darcy is impatient to see his sister; and, to confess the truth, we are scarcely
                       less eager to meet her again. I really do not think Georgiana Darcy has her equal for
                       beauty, elegance, and accomplishments; and the affection she inspires in Louisa and
                       myself is heightened into something still more interesting, from the hope we dare
                       entertain of her being hereafter our sister. I do not know whether I ever before
                       mentioned to you my feelings on this subject; but I will not leave the country without
                       confiding them, and I trust you will not esteem them unreasonable. My brother admires
                       her greatly already; he will have frequent opportunity now of seeing her on the most
                       intimate footing; her relations all wish the connection as much as his own; and a sister's
                       partiality is not misleading me, I think, when I call Charles most capable of engaging

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                       any woman's heart. With all these circumstances to favour an attachment, and nothing
                       to prevent it, am I wrong, my dearest Jane, in indulging the hope of an event which will
                       secure the happiness of so many?"
                          "What do you think of this sentence, my dear Lizzy?" said Jane as she finished it. "Is
                       it not clear enough? Does it not expressly declare that Caroline neither expects nor
                       wishes me to be her sister; that she is perfectly convinced of her brother's indifference;
                       and that if she suspects the nature of my feelings for him, she means (most kindly!) to
                       put me on my guard? Can there be any other opinion on the subject?"
                          "Yes, there can; for mine is totally different. Will you hear it?"
                          "Most willingly."
                         "You shall have it in a few words. Miss Bingley sees that her brother is in love with
                       you, and wants him to marry Miss Darcy. She follows him to town in hope of keeping
                       him there, and tries to persuade you that he does not care about you."
                          Jane shook her head.
                          "Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me. No one who has ever seen you together can
                       doubt his affection. Miss Bingley, I am sure, cannot. She is not such a simpleton. Could
                       she have seen half as much love in Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her
                       wedding clothes. But the case is this: We are not rich enough or grand enough for them;
                       and she is the more anxious to get Miss Darcy for her brother, from the notion that
                       when there has been one intermarriage, she may have less trouble in achieving a
                       second; in which there is certainly some ingenuity, and I dare say it would succeed, if
                       Miss de Bourgh were out of the way. But, my dearest Jane, you cannot seriously
                       imagine that because Miss Bingley tells you her brother greatly admires Miss Darcy, he
                       is in the smallest degree less sensible of your merit than when he took leave of you on
                       Tuesday, or that it will be in her power to persuade him that, instead of being in love
                       with you, he is very much in love with her friend."
                         "If we thought alike of Miss Bingley," replied Jane, "your representation of all this
                       might make me quite easy. But I know the foundation is unjust. Caroline is incapable of
                       wilfully deceiving anyone; and all that I can hope in this case is that she is deceiving
                         "That is right. You could not have started a more happy idea, since you will not take
                       comfort in mine. Believe her to be deceived, by all means. You have now done your
                       duty by her, and must fret no longer."
                         "But, my dear sister, can I be happy, even supposing the best, in accepting a man
                       whose sisters and friends are all wishing him to marry elsewhere?"
                         "You must decide for yourself," said Elizabeth; "and if, upon mature deliberation,
                       you find that the misery of disobliging his two sisters is more than equivalent to the
                       happiness of being his wife, I advise you by all means to refuse him."
                         "How can you talk so?" said Jane, faintly smiling. "You must know that though I
                       should be exceedingly grieved at their disapprobation, I could not hesitate."
                         "I did not think you would; and that being the case, I cannot consider your situation
                       with much compassion."
                          "But if he returns no more this winter, my choice will never be required. A thousand

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                       things may arise in six months!"
                          The idea of his returning no more Elizabeth treated with the utmost contempt. It
                       appeared to her merely the suggestion of Caroline's interested wishes, and she could not
                       for a moment suppose that those wishes, however openly or artfully spoken, could
                       influence a young man so totally independent of everyone.
                         She represented to her sister as forcibly as possible what she felt on the subject, and
                       had soon the pleasure of seeing its happy effect. Jane's temper was not desponding, and
                       she was gradually led to hope, though the diffidence of affection sometimes overcame
                       the hope, that Bingley would return to Netherfield and answer every wish of her heart.
                          They agreed that Mrs. Bennet should only hear of the departure of the family,
                       without being alarmed on the score of the gentleman's conduct; but even this partial
                       communication gave her a great deal of concern, and she bewailed it as exceedingly
                       unlucky that the ladies should happen to go away just as they were all getting so
                       intimate together. After lamenting it, however, at some length, she had the consolation
                       that Mr. Bingley would be soon down again and soon dining at Longbourn, and the
                       conclusion of all was the comfortable declaration, that though he had been invited only
                       to a family dinner, she would take care to have two full courses.

                                                          Chapter 22
                          The Bennets were engaged to dine with the Lucases and again during the chief of the
                       day was Miss Lucas so kind as to listen to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth took an opportunity of
                       thanking her. "It keeps him in good humour," said she, "and I am more obliged to you
                       than I can express." Charlotte assured her friend of her satisfaction in being useful, and
                       that it amply repaid her for the little sacrifice of her time. This was very amiable, but
                       Charlotte's kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; its object
                       was nothing else than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins's addresses, by
                       engaging them towards herself. Such was Miss Lucas's scheme; and appearances were
                       so favourable, that when they parted at night, she would have felt almost secure of
                       success if he had not been to leave Hertfordshire so very soon. But here she did
                       injustice to the fire and independence of his character, for it led him to escape out of
                       Longbourn House the next morning with admirable slyness, and hasten to Lucas Lodge
                       to throw himself at her feet. He was anxious to avoid the notice of his cousins, from a
                       conviction that if they saw him depart, they could not fail to conjecture his design, and
                       he was not willing to have the attempt known till its success might be known likewise;
                       for though feeling almost secure, and with reason, for Charlotte had been tolerably
                       encouraging, he was comparatively diffident since the adventure of Wednesday. His
                       reception, however, was of the most flattering kind. Miss Lucas perceived him from an
                       upper window as he walked towards the house, and instantly set out to meet him
                       accidentally in the lane. But little had she dared to hope that so much love and
                       eloquence awaited her there.
                         In as short a time as Mr. Collins's long speeches would allow, everything was settled
                       between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house he earnestly
                       entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though

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                       such a solicitation must be waived for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle
                       with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his
                       courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss
                       Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an
                       establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.
                          Sir William and Lady Lucas were speedily applied to for their consent; and it was
                       bestowed with a most joyful alacrity. Mr. Collins's present circumstances made it a
                       most eligible match for their daughter, to whom they could give little fortune; and his
                       prospects of future wealth were exceedingly fair. Lady Lucas began directly to
                       calculate, with more interest than the matter had ever excited before, how many years
                       longer Mr. Bennet was likely to live; and Sir William gave it as his decided opinion, that
                       whenever Mr. Collins should be in possession of the Longbourn estate, it would be
                       highly expedient that both he and his wife should make their appearance at St. James's.
                       The whole family, in short, were properly overjoyed on the occasion. The younger girls
                       formed hopes of coming out a year or two sooner than they might otherwise have done;
                       and the boys were relieved from their apprehension of Charlotte's dying an old maid.
                       Charlotte herself was tolerably composed. She had gained her point, and had time to
                       consider of it. Her reflections were in general satisfactory. Mr. Collins, to be sure, was
                       neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must
                       be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. Without thinking highly either of men
                       or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only provision for
                       well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving
                       happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had
                       now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she
                       felt all the good luck of it. The least agreeable circumstance in the business was the
                       surprise it must occasion to Elizabeth Bennet, whose friendship she valued beyond that
                       of any other person. Elizabeth would wonder, and probably would blame her; and
                       though her resolution was not to be shaken, her feelings must be hurt by such a
                       disapprobation. She resolved to give her the information herself, and therefore charged
                       Mr. Collins, when he returned to Longbourn to dinner, to drop no hint of what had
                       passed before any of the family. A promise of secrecy was of course very dutifully
                       given, but it could not be kept without difficulty; for the curiosity excited by his long
                       absence burst forth in such very direct questions on his return as required some
                       ingenuity to evade, and he was at the same time exercising great self-denial, for he was
                       longing to publish his prosperous love.
                          As he was to begin his journey too early on the morrow to see any of the family, the
                       ceremony of leave-taking was performed when the ladies moved for the night; and Mrs.
                       Bennet, with great politeness and cordiality, said how happy they should be to see him
                       at Longbourn again, whenever his engagements might allow him to visit them.
                         "My dear madam," he replied, "this invitation is particularly gratifying, because it is
                       what I have been hoping to receive; and you may be very certain that I shall avail
                       myself of it as soon as possible."
                         They were all astonished; and Mr. Bennet, who could by no means wish for so
                       speedy a return, immediately said:
                         "But is there not danger of Lady Catherine's disapprobation here, my good sir? You
                       had better neglect your relations than run the risk of offending your patroness."
                          "My dear sir," replied Mr. Collins, "I am particularly obliged to you for this friendly

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                       caution, and you may depend upon my not taking so material a step without her
                       ladyship's concurrence."
                          "You cannot be too much upon your guard. Risk anything rather than her
                       displeasure; and if you find it likely to be raised by your coming to us again, which I
                       should think exceedingly probable, stay quietly at home, and be satisfied that we shall
                       take no offence."
                          "Believe me, my dear sir, my gratitude is warmly excited by such affectionate
                       attention; and depend upon it, you will speedily receive from me a letter of thanks for
                       this, and for every other mark of your regard during my stay in Hertfordshire. As for my
                       fair cousins, though my absence may not be long enough to render it necessary, I shall
                       now take the liberty of wishing them health and happiness, not excepting my cousin
                          With proper civilities the ladies then withdrew; all of them equally surprised that he
                       meditated a quick return. Mrs. Bennet wished to understand by it that he thought of
                       paying his addresses to one of her younger girls, and Mary might have been prevailed
                       on to accept him. She rated his abilities much higher than any of the others; there was a
                       solidity in his reflections which often struck her, and though by no means so clever as
                       herself, she thought that if encouraged to read and improve himself by such an example
                       as hers, he might become a very agreeable companion. But on the following morning,
                       every hope of this kind was done away. Miss Lucas called soon after breakfast, and in a
                       private conference with Elizabeth related the event of the day before.
                          The possibility of Mr. Collins's fancying himself in love with her friend had once
                       occurred to Elizabeth within the last day or two; but that Charlotte could encourage
                       him seemed almost as far from possibility as she could encourage him herself, and her
                       astonishment was consequently so great as to overcome at first the bounds of decorum,
                       and she could not help crying out:
                          "Engaged to Mr. Collins! My dear Charlotte—impossible!"
                         The steady countenance which Miss Lucas had commanded in telling her story, gave
                       way to a momentary confusion here on receiving so direct a reproach; though, as it was
                       no more than she expected, she soon regained her composure, and calmly replied:
                         "Why should you be surprised, my dear Eliza? Do you think it incredible that Mr.
                       Collins should be able to procure any woman's good opinion, because he was not so
                       happy as to succeed with you?"
                         But Elizabeth had now recollected herself, and making a strong effort for it, was able
                       to assure with tolerable firmness that the prospect of their relationship was highly
                       grateful to her, and that she wished her all imaginable happiness.
                          "I see what you are feeling," replied Charlotte. "You must be surprised, very much
                       surprised—so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had
                       time to think it over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not
                       romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr.
                       Collins's character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of
                       happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state."
                          Elizabeth quietly answered "Undoubtedly;" and after an awkward pause, they
                       returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was
                       then left to reflect on what she had heard. It was a long time before she became at all

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                       reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins's making
                       two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now
                       accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte's opinion of matrimony was not exactly
                       like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action,
                       she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife
                       of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing
                       herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was
                       impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.

                                                           Chapter 23
                          Elizabeth was sitting with her mother and sisters, reflecting on what she had heard,
                       and doubting whether she was authorised to mention it, when Sir William Lucas himself
                       appeared, sent by his daughter, to announce her engagement to the family. With many
                       compliments to them, and much self-gratulation on the prospect of a connection
                       between the houses, he unfolded the matter—to an audience not merely wondering, but
                       incredulous; for Mrs. Bennet, with more perseverance than politeness, protested he
                       must be entirely mistaken; and Lydia, always unguarded and often uncivil, boisterously
                         "Good Lord! Sir William, how can you tell such a story? Do not you know that Mr.
                       Collins wants to marry Lizzy?"
                         Nothing less than the complaisance of a courtier could have borne without anger
                       such treatment; but Sir William's good breeding carried him through it all; and though
                       he begged leave to be positive as to the truth of his information, he listened to all their
                       impertinence with the most forbearing courtesy.
                          Elizabeth, feeling it incumbent on her to relieve him from so unpleasant a situation,
                       now put herself forward to confirm his account, by mentioning her prior knowledge of
                       it from Charlotte herself; and endeavoured to put a stop to the exclamations of her
                       mother and sisters by the earnestness of her congratulations to Sir William, in which she
                       was readily joined by Jane, and by making a variety of remarks on the happiness that
                       might be expected from the match, the excellent character of Mr. Collins, and the
                       convenient distance of Hunsford from London.
                          Mrs. Bennet was in fact too much overpowered to say a great deal while Sir William
                       remained; but no sooner had he left them than her feelings found a rapid vent. In the
                       first place, she persisted in disbelieving the whole of the matter; secondly, she was very
                       sure that Mr. Collins had been taken in; thirdly, she trusted that they would never be
                       happy together; and fourthly, that the match might be broken off. Two inferences,
                       however, were plainly deduced from the whole: one, that Elizabeth was the real cause
                       of the mischief; and the other that she herself had been barbarously misused by them
                       all; and on these two points she principally dwelt during the rest of the day. Nothing
                       could console and nothing could appease her. Nor did that day wear out her resentment.
                       A week elapsed before she could see Elizabeth without scolding her, a month passed
                       away before she could speak to Sir William or Lady Lucas without being rude, and
                       many months were gone before she could at all forgive their daughter.

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                          Mr. Bennet's emotions were much more tranquil on the occasion, and such as he did
                       experience he pronounced to be of a most agreeable sort; for it gratified him, he said, to
                       discover that Charlotte Lucas, whom he had been used to think tolerably sensible, was
                       as foolish as his wife, and more foolish than his daughter!
                          Jane confessed herself a little surprised at the match; but she said less of her
                       astonishment than of her earnest desire for their happiness; nor could Elizabeth
                       persuade her to consider it as improbable. Kitty and Lydia were far from envying Miss
                       Lucas, for Mr. Collins was only a clergyman; and it affected them in no other way than
                       as a piece of news to spread at Meryton.
                           Lady Lucas could not be insensible of triumph on being able to retort on Mrs. Bennet
                       the comfort of having a daughter well married; and she called at Longbourn rather
                       oftener than usual to say how happy she was, though Mrs. Bennet's sour looks and
                       ill-natured remarks might have been enough to drive happiness away.
                          Between Elizabeth and Charlotte there was a restraint which kept them mutually
                       silent on the subject; and Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever
                       subsist between them again. Her disappointment in Charlotte made her turn with fonder
                       regard to her sister, of whose rectitude and delicacy she was sure her opinion could
                       never be shaken, and for whose happiness she grew daily more anxious, as Bingley had
                       now been gone a week and nothing more was heard of his return.
                          Jane had sent Caroline an early answer to her letter, and was counting the days till
                       she might reasonably hope to hear again. The promised letter of thanks from Mr.
                       Collins arrived on Tuesday, addressed to their father, and written with all the solemnity
                       of gratitude which a twelvemonth's abode in the family might have prompted. After
                       discharging his conscience on that head, he proceeded to inform them, with many
                       rapturous expressions, of his happiness in having obtained the affection of their amiable
                       neighbour, Miss Lucas, and then explained that it was merely with the view of enjoying
                       her society that he had been so ready to close with their kind wish of seeing him again
                       at Longbourn, whither he hoped to be able to return on Monday fortnight; for Lady
                       Catherine, he added, so heartily approved his marriage, that she wished it to take place
                       as soon as possible, which he trusted would be an unanswerable argument with his
                       amiable Charlotte to name an early day for making him the happiest of men.
                          Mr. Collins's return into Hertfordshire was no longer a matter of pleasure to Mrs.
                       Bennet. On the contrary, she was as much disposed to complain of it as her husband. It
                       was very strange that he should come to Longbourn instead of to Lucas Lodge; it was
                       also very inconvenient and exceedingly troublesome. She hated having visitors in the
                       house while her health was so indifferent, and lovers were of all people the most
                       disagreeable. Such were the gentle murmurs of Mrs. Bennet, and they gave way only to
                       the greater distress of Mr. Bingley's continued absence.
                          Neither Jane nor Elizabeth were comfortable on this subject. Day after day passed
                       away without bringing any other tidings of him than the report which shortly prevailed
                       in Meryton of his coming no more to Netherfield the whole winter; a report which
                       highly incensed Mrs. Bennet, and which she never failed to contradict as a most
                       scandalous falsehood.
                         Even Elizabeth began to fear—not that Bingley was indifferent—but that his sisters
                       would be successful in keeping him away. Unwilling as she was to admit an idea so
                       destructive of Jane's happiness, and so dishonorable to the stability of her lover, she

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                       could not prevent its frequently occurring. The united efforts of his two unfeeling sisters
                       and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions of Miss Darcy and the
                       amusements of London might be too much, she feared, for the strength of his
                          As for Jane, her anxiety under this suspense was, of course, more painful than
                       Elizabeth's, but whatever she felt she was desirous of concealing, and between herself
                       and Elizabeth, therefore, the subject was never alluded to. But as no such delicacy
                       restrained her mother, an hour seldom passed in which she did not talk of Bingley,
                       express her impatience for his arrival, or even require Jane to confess that if he did not
                       come back she would think herself very ill used. It needed all Jane's steady mildness to
                       bear these attacks with tolerable tranquillity.
                          Mr. Collins returned most punctually on Monday fortnight, but his reception at
                       Longbourn was not quite so gracious as it had been on his first introduction. He was too
                       happy, however, to need much attention; and luckily for the others, the business of
                       love-making relieved them from a great deal of his company. The chief of every day
                       was spent by him at Lucas Lodge, and he sometimes returned to Longbourn only in
                       time to make an apology for his absence before the family went to bed.
                         Mrs. Bennet was really in a most pitiable state. The very mention of anything
                       concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went
                       she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her
                       successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. Whenever Charlotte
                       came to see them, she concluded her to be anticipating the hour of possession; and
                       whenever she spoke in a low voice to Mr. Collins, was convinced that they were talking
                       of the Longbourn estate, and resolving to turn herself and her daughters out of the
                       house, as soon as Mr. Bennet were dead. She complained bitterly of all this to her
                         "Indeed, Mr. Bennet," said she, "it is very hard to think that Charlotte Lucas should
                       ever be mistress of this house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to
                       see her take her place in it!"
                         "My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things.
                       Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor."
                         This was not very consoling to Mrs. Bennet, and therefore, instead of making any
                       answer, she went on as before.
                         "I cannot bear to think that they should have all this estate. If it was not for the
                       entail, I should not mind it."
                          "What should not you mind?"
                          "I should not mind anything at all."
                          "Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility."
                         "I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for anything about the entail. How anyone
                       could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one's own daughters, I cannot
                       understand; and all for the sake of Mr. Collins too! Why should he have it more than
                       anybody else?"
                          "I leave it to yourself to determine," said Mr. Bennet.

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                                                           Chapter 24
                          Miss Bingley's letter arrived, and put an end to doubt. The very first sentence
                       conveyed the assurance of their being all settled in London for the winter, and
                       concluded with her brother's regret at not having had time to pay his respects to his
                       friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country.
                          Hope was over, entirely over; and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter,
                       she found little, except the professed affection of the writer, that could give her any
                       comfort. Miss Darcy's praise occupied the chief of it. Her many attractions were again
                       dwelt on, and Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy, and ventured to
                       predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter.
                       She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother's being an inmate of Mr. Darcy's
                       house, and mentioned with raptures some plans of the latter with regard to new
                          Elizabeth, to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this, heard it in
                       silent indignation. Her heart was divided between concern for her sister, and resentment
                       against all others. To Caroline's assertion of her brother's being partial to Miss Darcy
                       she paid no credit. That he was really fond of Jane, she doubted no more than she had
                       ever done; and much as she had always been disposed to like him, she could not think
                       without anger, hardly without contempt, on that easiness of temper, that want of proper
                       resolution, which now made him the slave of his designing friends, and led him to
                       sacrifice of his own happiness to the caprice of their inclination. Had his own
                       happiness, however, been the only sacrifice, he might have been allowed to sport with it
                       in whatever manner he thought best, but her sister's was involved in it, as she thought
                       he must be sensible himself. It was a subject, in short, on which reflection would be
                       long indulged, and must be unavailing. She could think of nothing else; and yet whether
                       Bingley's regard had really died away, or were suppressed by his friends' interference;
                       whether he had been aware of Jane's attachment, or whether it had escaped his
                       observation; whatever were the case, though her opinion of him must be materially
                       affected by the difference, her sister's situation remained the same, her peace equally
                         A day or two passed before Jane had courage to speak of her feelings to Elizabeth;
                       but at last, on Mrs. Bennet's leaving them together, after a longer irritation than usual
                       about Netherfield and its master, she could not help saying:
                         "Oh, that my dear mother had more command over herself! She can have no idea of
                       the pain she gives me by her continual reflections on him. But I will not repine. It
                       cannot last long. He will be forgot, and we shall all be as we were before."
                          Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude, but said nothing.
                          "You doubt me," cried Jane, slightly colouring; "indeed, you have no reason. He may
                       live in my memory as the most amiable man of my acquaintance, but that is all. I have
                       nothing either to hope or fear, and nothing to reproach him with. Thank God! I have not
                       that pain. A little time, therefore—I shall certainly try to get the better."

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                         With a stronger voice she soon added, "I have this comfort immediately, that it has
                       not been more than an error of fancy on my side, and that it has done no harm to
                       anyone but myself."
                          "My dear Jane!" exclaimed Elizabeth, "you are too good. Your sweetness and
                       disinterestedness are really angelic; I do not know what to say to you. I feel as if I had
                       never done you justice, or loved you as you deserve."
                         Miss Bennet eagerly disclaimed all extraordinary merit, and threw back the praise on
                       her sister's warm affection.
                         "Nay," said Elizabeth, "this is not fair. You wish to think all the world respectable,
                       and are hurt if I speak ill of anybody. I only want to think you perfect, and you set
                       yourself against it. Do not be afraid of my running into any excess, of my encroaching
                       on your privilege of universal good-will. You need not. There are few people whom I
                       really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more
                       am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all
                       human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of
                       merit or sense. I have met with two instances lately, one I will not mention; the other is
                       Charlotte's marriage. It is unaccountable! In every view it is unaccountable!"
                         "My dear Lizzy, do not give way to such feelings as these. They will ruin your
                       happiness. You do not make allowance enough for difference of situation and temper.
                       Consider Mr. Collins's respectability, and Charlotte's steady, prudent character.
                       Remember that she is one of a large family; that as to fortune, it is a most eligible
                       match; and be ready to believe, for everybody's sake, that she may feel something like
                       regard and esteem for our cousin."
                          "To oblige you, I would try to believe almost anything, but no one else could be
                       benefited by such a belief as this; for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard
                       for him, I should only think worse of her understanding than I now do of her heart. My
                       dear Jane, Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man; you know he
                       is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that the woman who married him
                       cannot have a proper way of thinking. You shall not defend her, though it is Charlotte
                       Lucas. You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle
                       and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is prudence,
                       and insensibility of danger security for happiness."
                          "I must think your language too strong in speaking of both," replied Jane; "and I hope
                       you will be convinced of it by seeing them happy together. But enough of this. You
                       alluded to something else. You mentioned two instances. I cannot misunderstand you,
                       but I entreat you, dear Lizzy, not to pain me by thinking that person to blame, and
                       saying your opinion of him is sunk. We must not be so ready to fancy ourselves
                       intentionally injured. We must not expect a lively young man to be always so guarded
                       and circumspect. It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women
                       fancy admiration means more than it does."
                          "And men take care that they should."
                         "If it is designedly done, they cannot be justified; but I have no idea of there being so
                       much design in the world as some persons imagine."
                         "I am far from attributing any part of Mr. Bingley's conduct to design," said
                       Elizabeth; "but without scheming to do wrong, or to make others unhappy, there may

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                       be error, and there may be misery. Thoughtlessness, want of attention to other people's
                       feelings, and want of resolution, will do the business."
                          "And do you impute it to either of those?"
                         "Yes; to the last. But if I go on, I shall displease you by saying what I think of
                       persons you esteem. Stop me whilst you can."
                          "You persist, then, in supposing his sisters influence him?"
                          "Yes, in conjunction with his friend."
                         "I cannot believe it. Why should they try to influence him? They can only wish his
                       happiness; and if he is attached to me, no other woman can secure it."
                         "Your first position is false. They may wish many things besides his happiness; they
                       may wish his increase of wealth and consequence; they may wish him to marry a girl
                       who has all the importance of money, great connections, and pride."
                          "Beyond a doubt, they do wish him to choose Miss Darcy," replied Jane; "but this
                       may be from better feelings than you are supposing. They have known her much longer
                       than they have known me; no wonder if they love her better. But, whatever may be
                       their own wishes, it is very unlikely they should have opposed their brother's. What
                       sister would think herself at liberty to do it, unless there were something very
                       objectionable? If they believed him attached to me, they would not try to part us; if he
                       were so, they could not succeed. By supposing such an affection, you make everybody
                       acting unnaturally and wrong, and me most unhappy. Do not distress me by the idea. I
                       am not ashamed of having been mistaken—or, at least, it is light, it is nothing in
                       comparison of what I should feel in thinking ill of him or his sisters. Let me take it in
                       the best light, in the light in which it may be understood."
                         Elizabeth could not oppose such a wish; and from this time Mr. Bingley's name was
                       scarcely ever mentioned between them.
                           Mrs. Bennet still continued to wonder and repine at his returning no more, and
                       though a day seldom passed in which Elizabeth did not account for it clearly, there was
                       little chance of her ever considering it with less perplexity. Her daughter endeavoured
                       to convince her of what she did not believe herself, that his attentions to Jane had been
                       merely the effect of a common and transient liking, which ceased when he saw her no
                       more; but though the probability of the statement was admitted at the time, she had the
                       same story to repeat every day. Mrs. Bennet's best comfort was that Mr. Bingley must
                       be down again in the summer.
                          Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is
                       crossed in love, I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be
                       crossed a little in love now and then. It is something to think of, and it gives her a sort
                       of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear
                       to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to
                       disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a
                       pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably."
                         "Thank you, sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me. We must not all expect
                       Jane's good fortune."
                          "True," said Mr. Bennet, "but it is a comfort to think that whatever of that kind may

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                       befall you, you have an affectionate mother who will make the most of it."
                          Mr. Wickham's society was of material service in dispelling the gloom which the late
                       perverse occurrences had thrown on many of the Longbourn family. They saw him
                       often, and to his other recommendations was now added that of general unreserve. The
                       whole of what Elizabeth had already heard, his claims on Mr. Darcy, and all that he had
                       suffered from him, was now openly acknowledged and publicly canvassed; and
                       everybody was pleased to know how much they had always disliked Mr. Darcy before
                       they had known anything of the matter.
                         Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might be any
                       extenuating circumstances in the case, unknown to the society of Hertfordshire; her
                       mild and steady candour always pleaded for allowances, and urged the possibility of
                       mistakes—but by everybody else Mr. Darcy was condemned as the worst of men.

                                                           Chapter 25
                          After a week spent in professions of love and schemes of felicity, Mr. Collins was
                       called from his amiable Charlotte by the arrival of Saturday. The pain of separation,
                       however, might be alleviated on his side, by preparations for the reception of his bride;
                       as he had reason to hope, that shortly after his return into Hertfordshire, the day would
                       be fixed that was to make him the happiest of men. He took leave of his relations at
                       Longbourn with as much solemnity as before; wished his fair cousins health and
                       happiness again, and promised their father another letter of thanks.
                          On the following Monday, Mrs. Bennet had the pleasure of receiving her brother and
                       his wife, who came as usual to spend the Christmas at Longbourn. Mr. Gardiner was a
                       sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister, as well by nature as
                       education. The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who
                       lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well-bred
                       and agreeable. Mrs. Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs. Bennet and
                       Mrs. Phillips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all
                       her Longbourn nieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially, there subsisted a
                       particular regard. They had frequently been staying with her in town.
                          The first part of Mrs. Gardiner's business on her arrival was to distribute her presents
                       and describe the newest fashions. When this was done she had a less active part to play.
                       It became her turn to listen. Mrs. Bennet had many grievances to relate, and much to
                       complain of. They had all been very ill-used since she last saw her sister. Two of her
                       girls had been upon the point of marriage, and after all there was nothing in it.
                          "I do not blame Jane," she continued, "for Jane would have got Mr. Bingley if she
                       could. But Lizzy! Oh, sister! It is very hard to think that she might have been Mr.
                       Collins's wife by this time, had it not been for her own perverseness. He made her an
                       offer in this very room, and she refused him. The consequence of it is, that Lady Lucas
                       will have a daughter married before I have, and that the Longbourn estate is just as
                       much entailed as ever. The Lucases are very artful people indeed, sister. They are all
                       for what they can get. I am sorry to say it of them, but so it is. It makes me very

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                       nervous and poorly, to be thwarted so in my own family, and to have neighbours who
                       think of themselves before anybody else. However, your coming just at this time is the
                       greatest of comforts, and I am very glad to hear what you tell us, of long sleeves."
                          Mrs. Gardiner, to whom the chief of this news had been given before, in the course
                       of Jane and Elizabeth's correspondence with her, made her sister a slight answer, and, in
                       compassion to her nieces, turned the conversation.
                          When alone with Elizabeth afterwards, she spoke more on the subject. "It seems
                       likely to have been a desirable match for Jane," said she. "I am sorry it went off. But
                       these things happen so often! A young man, such as you describe Mr. Bingley, so easily
                       falls in love with a pretty girl for a few weeks, and when accident separates them, so
                       easily forgets her, that these sort of inconsistencies are very frequent."
                          "An excellent consolation in its way," said Elizabeth, "but it will not do for us. We do
                       not suffer by accident. It does not often happen that the interference of friends will
                       persuade a young man of independent fortune to think no more of a girl whom he was
                       violently in love with only a few days before."
                         "But that expression of 'violently in love' is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite,
                       that it gives me very little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise from a
                       half-hour's acquaintance, as to a real, strong attachment. Pray, how violent was Mr.
                       Bingley's love?"
                          "I never saw a more promising inclination; he was growing quite inattentive to other
                       people, and wholly engrossed by her. Every time they met, it was more decided and
                       remarkable. At his own ball he offended two or three young ladies, by not asking them
                       to dance; and I spoke to him twice myself, without receiving an answer. Could there be
                       finer symptoms? Is not general incivility the very essence of love?"
                         "Oh, yes!—of that kind of love which I suppose him to have felt. Poor Jane! I am
                       sorry for her, because, with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had
                       better have happened to you, Lizzy; you would have laughed yourself out of it sooner.
                       But do you think she would be prevailed upon to go back with us? Change of scene
                       might be of service—and perhaps a little relief from home may be as useful as
                          Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal, and felt persuaded of her
                       sister's ready acquiescence.
                          "I hope," added Mrs. Gardiner, "that no consideration with regard to this young man
                       will influence her. We live in so different a part of town, all our connections are so
                       different, and, as you well know, we go out so little, that it is very improbable that they
                       should meet at all, unless he really comes to see her."
                          "And that is quite impossible; for he is now in the custody of his friend, and Mr.
                       Darcy would no more suffer him to call on Jane in such a part of London! My dear
                       aunt, how could you think of it? Mr. Darcy may perhaps have heard of such a place as
                       Gracechurch Street, but he would hardly think a month's ablution enough to cleanse
                       him from its impurities, were he once to enter it; and depend upon it, Mr. Bingley never
                       stirs without him."
                         "So much the better. I hope they will not meet at all. But does not Jane correspond
                       with his sister? She will not be able to help calling."

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                          "She will drop the acquaintance entirely."
                          But in spite of the certainty in which Elizabeth affected to place this point, as well as
                       the still more interesting one of Bingley's being withheld from seeing Jane, she felt a
                       solicitude on the subject which convinced her, on examination, that she did not
                       consider it entirely hopeless. It was possible, and sometimes she thought it probable,
                       that his affection might be reanimated, and the influence of his friends successfully
                       combated by the more natural influence of Jane's attractions.
                         Miss Bennet accepted her aunt's invitation with pleasure; and the Bingleys were no
                       otherwise in her thoughts at the same time, than as she hoped by Caroline's not living in
                       the same house with her brother, she might occasionally spend a morning with her,
                       without any danger of seeing him.
                          The Gardiners stayed a week at Longbourn; and what with the Phillipses, the
                       Lucases, and the officers, there was not a day without its engagement. Mrs. Bennet had
                       so carefully provided for the entertainment of her brother and sister, that they did not
                       once sit down to a family dinner. When the engagement was for home, some of the
                       officers always made part of it—of which officers Mr. Wickham was sure to be one;
                       and on these occasion, Mrs. Gardiner, rendered suspicious by Elizabeth's warm
                       commendation, narrowly observed them both. Without supposing them, from what she
                       saw, to be very seriously in love, their preference of each other was plain enough to
                       make her a little uneasy; and she resolved to speak to Elizabeth on the subject before
                       she left Hertfordshire, and represent to her the imprudence of encouraging such an
                          To Mrs. Gardiner, Wickham had one means of affording pleasure, unconnected with
                       his general powers. About ten or a dozen years ago, before her marriage, she had spent
                       a considerable time in that very part of Derbyshire to which he belonged. They had,
                       therefore, many acquaintances in common; and though Wickham had been little there
                       since the death of Darcy's father, it was yet in his power to give her fresher intelligence
                       of her former friends than she had been in the way of procuring.
                           Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley, and known the late Mr. Darcy by character
                       perfectly well. Here consequently was an inexhaustible subject of discourse. In
                       comparing her recollection of Pemberley with the minute description which Wickham
                       could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the character of its late possessor,
                       she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted with the present
                       Mr. Darcy's treatment of him, she tried to remember some of that gentleman's reputed
                       disposition when quite a lad which might agree with it, and was confident at last that
                       she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud,
                       ill-natured boy.

                                                           Chapter 26
                         Mrs. Gardiner's caution to Elizabeth was punctually and kindly given on the first
                       favourable opportunity of speaking to her alone; after honestly telling her what she
                       thought, she thus went on:

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                          "You are too sensible a girl, Lizzy, to fall in love merely because you are warned
                       against it; and, therefore, I am not afraid of speaking openly. Seriously, I would have
                       you be on your guard. Do not involve yourself or endeavour to involve him in an
                       affection which the want of fortune would make so very imprudent. I have nothing to
                       say against him; he is a most interesting young man; and if he had the fortune he ought
                       to have, I should think you could not do better. But as it is, you must not let your fancy
                       run away with you. You have sense, and we all expect you to use it. Your father would
                       depend on your resolution and good conduct, I am sure. You must not disappoint your
                          "My dear aunt, this is being serious indeed."
                          "Yes, and I hope to engage you to be serious likewise."
                        "Well, then, you need not be under any alarm. I will take care of myself, and of Mr.
                       Wickham too. He shall not be in love with me, if I can prevent it."
                          "Elizabeth, you are not serious now."
                          "I beg your pardon, I will try again. At present I am not in love with Mr. Wickham;
                       no, I certainly am not. But he is, beyond all comparison, the most agreeable man I ever
                       saw—and if he becomes really attached to me—I believe it will be better that he should
                       not. I see the imprudence of it. Oh! that abominable Mr. Darcy! My father's opinion of
                       me does me the greatest honour, and I should be miserable to forfeit it. My father,
                       however, is partial to Mr. Wickham. In short, my dear aunt, I should be very sorry to be
                       the means of making any of you unhappy; but since we see every day that where there
                       is affection, young people are seldom withheld by immediate want of fortune from
                       entering into engagements with each other, how can I promise to be wiser than so many
                       of my fellow-creatures if I am tempted, or how am I even to know that it would be
                       wisdom to resist? All that I can promise you, therefore, is not to be in a hurry. I will not
                       be in a hurry to believe myself his first object. When I am in company with him, I will
                       not be wishing. In short, I will do my best."
                         "Perhaps it will be as well if you discourage his coming here so very often. At least,
                       you should not remind your mother of inviting him."
                          "As I did the other day," said Elizabeth with a conscious smile: "very true, it will be
                       wise in me to refrain from that. But do not imagine that he is always here so often. It is
                       on your account that he has been so frequently invited this week. You know my
                       mother's ideas as to the necessity of constant company for her friends. But really, and
                       upon my honour, I will try to do what I think to be the wisest; and now I hope you are
                         Her aunt assured her that she was, and Elizabeth having thanked her for the kindness
                       of her hints, they parted; a wonderful instance of advice being given on such a point,
                       without being resented.
                           Mr. Collins returned into Hertfordshire soon after it had been quitted by the
                       Gardiners and Jane; but as he took up his abode with the Lucases, his arrival was no
                       great inconvenience to Mrs. Bennet. His marriage was now fast approaching, and she
                       was at length so far resigned as to think it inevitable, and even repeatedly to say, in an
                       ill-natured tone, that she "wished they might be happy." Thursday was to be the
                       wedding day, and on Wednesday Miss Lucas paid her farewell visit; and when she rose
                       to take leave, Elizabeth, ashamed of her mother's ungracious and reluctant good wishes,

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                       and sincerely affected herself, accompanied her out of the room. As they went
                       downstairs together, Charlotte said:
                          "I shall depend on hearing from you very often, Eliza."
                          "That you certainly shall."
                          "And I have another favour to ask you. Will you come and see me?"
                          "We shall often meet, I hope, in Hertfordshire."
                         "I am not likely to leave Kent for some time. Promise me, therefore, to come to
                          Elizabeth could not refuse, though she foresaw little pleasure in the visit.
                         "My father and Maria are coming to me in March," added Charlotte, "and I hope you
                       will consent to be of the party. Indeed, Eliza, you will be as welcome as either of them."
                          The wedding took place; the bride and bridegroom set off for Kent from the church
                       door, and everybody had as much to say, or to hear, on the subject as usual. Elizabeth
                       soon heard from her friend; and their correspondence was as regular and frequent as it
                       had ever been; that it should be equally unreserved was impossible. Elizabeth could
                       never address her without feeling that all the comfort of intimacy was over, and though
                       determined not to slacken as a correspondent, it was for the sake of what had been,
                       rather than what was. Charlotte's first letters were received with a good deal of
                       eagerness; there could not but be curiosity to know how she would speak of her new
                       home, how she would like Lady Catherine, and how happy she would dare pronounce
                       herself to be; though, when the letters were read, Elizabeth felt that Charlotte expressed
                       herself on every point exactly as she might have foreseen. She wrote cheerfully,
                       seemed surrounded with comforts, and mentioned nothing which she could not praise.
                       The house, furniture, neighbourhood, and roads, were all to her taste, and Lady
                       Catherine's behaviour was most friendly and obliging. It was Mr. Collins's picture of
                       Hunsford and Rosings rationally softened; and Elizabeth perceived that she must wait
                       for her own visit there to know the rest.
                         Jane had already written a few lines to her sister to announce their safe arrival in
                       London; and when she wrote again, Elizabeth hoped it would be in her power to say
                       something of the Bingleys.
                         Her impatience for this second letter was as well rewarded as impatience generally is.
                       Jane had been a week in town without either seeing or hearing from Caroline. She
                       accounted for it, however, by supposing that her last letter to her friend from
                       Longbourn had by some accident been lost.
                          "My aunt," she continued, "is going to-morrow into that part of the town, and I shall
                       take the opportunity of calling in Grosvenor Street."
                          She wrote again when the visit was paid, and she had seen Miss Bingley. "I did not
                       think Caroline in spirits," were her words, "but she was very glad to see me, and
                       reproached me for giving her no notice of my coming to London. I was right, therefore,
                       my last letter had never reached her. I inquired after their brother, of course. He was
                       well, but so much engaged with Mr. Darcy that they scarcely ever saw him. I found that
                       Miss Darcy was expected to dinner. I wish I could see her. My visit was not long, as
                       Caroline and Mrs. Hurst were going out. I dare say I shall see them soon here."

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                          Elizabeth shook her head over this letter. It convinced her that accident only could
                       discover to Mr. Bingley her sister's being in town.
                          Four weeks passed away, and Jane saw nothing of him. She endeavoured to persuade
                       herself that she did not regret it; but she could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley's
                       inattention. After waiting at home every morning for a fortnight, and inventing every
                       evening a fresh excuse for her, the visitor did at last appear; but the shortness of her
                       stay, and yet more, the alteration of her manner would allow Jane to deceive herself no
                       longer. The letter which she wrote on this occasion to her sister will prove what she felt.
                          "My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better
                       judgement, at my expense, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in
                       Miss Bingley's regard for me. But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you
                       right, do not think me obstinate if I still assert that, considering what her behaviour was,
                       my confidence was as natural as your suspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason
                       for wishing to be intimate with me; but if the same circumstances were to happen again,
                       I am sure I should be deceived again. Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday; and
                       not a note, not a line, did I receive in the meantime. When she did come, it was very
                       evident that she had no pleasure in it; she made a slight, formal apology, for not calling
                       before, said not a word of wishing to see me again, and was in every respect so altered
                       a creature, that when she went away I was perfectly resolved to continue the
                       acquaintance no longer. I pity, though I cannot help blaming her. She was very wrong in
                       singling me out as she did; I can safely say that every advance to intimacy began on her
                       side. But I pity her, because she must feel that she has been acting wrong, and because
                       I am very sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause of it. I need not explain myself
                       farther; and though we know this anxiety to be quite needless, yet if she feels it, it will
                       easily account for her behaviour to me; and so deservedly dear as he is to his sister,
                       whatever anxiety she must feel on his behalf is natural and amiable. I cannot but
                       wonder, however, at her having any such fears now, because, if he had at all cared
                       about me, we must have met, long ago. He knows of my being in town, I am certain,
                       from something she said herself; and yet it would seem, by her manner of talking, as if
                       she wanted to persuade herself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy. I cannot
                       understand it. If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say
                       that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this. But I will endeavour to banish
                       every painful thought, and think only of what will make me happy—your affection, and
                       the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt. Let me hear from you very soon.
                       Miss Bingley said something of his never returning to Netherfield again, of giving up the
                       house, but not with any certainty. We had better not mention it. I am extremely glad
                       that you have such pleasant accounts from our friends at Hunsford. Pray go to see
                       them, with Sir William and Maria. I am sure you will be very comfortable there.
                       —Yours, etc."
                         This letter gave Elizabeth some pain; but her spirits returned as she considered that
                       Jane would no longer be duped, by the sister at least. All expectation from the brother
                       was now absolutely over. She would not even wish for a renewal of his attentions. His
                       character sunk on every review of it; and as a punishment for him, as well as a possible
                       advantage to Jane, she seriously hoped he might really soon marry Mr. Darcy's sister, as
                       by Wickham's account, she would make him abundantly regret what he had thrown
                         Mrs. Gardiner about this time reminded Elizabeth of her promise concerning that
                       gentleman, and required information; and Elizabeth had such to send as might rather

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                       give contentment to her aunt than to herself. His apparent partiality had subsided, his
                       attentions were over, he was the admirer of some one else. Elizabeth was watchful
                       enough to see it all, but she could see it and write of it without material pain. Her heart
                       had been but slightly touched, and her vanity was satisfied with believing that she
                       would have been his only choice, had fortune permitted it. The sudden acquisition of
                       ten thousand pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom he
                       was now rendering himself agreeable; but Elizabeth, less clear-sighted perhaps in this
                       case than in Charlotte's, did not quarrel with him for his wish of independence. Nothing,
                       on the contrary, could be more natural; and while able to suppose that it cost him a few
                       struggles to relinquish her, she was ready to allow it a wise and desirable measure for
                       both, and could very sincerely wish him happy.
                          All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances,
                       she thus went on: "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in
                       love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present
                       detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only
                       cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I
                       hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl.
                       There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I
                       certainly should be a more interesting object to all my acquaintances were I distractedly
                       in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance
                       may sometimes be purchased too dearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more
                       to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of the world, and not yet open to the
                       mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have something to live on as well
                       as the plain."

                                                           Chapter 27
                         With no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified
                       by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty and sometimes cold, did January
                       and February pass away. March was to take Elizabeth to Hunsford. She had not at first
                       thought very seriously of going thither; but Charlotte, she soon found, was depending
                       on the plan and she gradually learned to consider it herself with greater pleasure as well
                       as greater certainty. Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotte again, and
                       weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins. There was novelty in the scheme, and as, with
                       such a mother and such uncompanionable sisters, home could not be faultless, a little
                       change was not unwelcome for its own sake. The journey would moreover give her a
                       peep at Jane; and, in short, as the time drew near, she would have been very sorry for
                       any delay. Everything, however, went on smoothly, and was finally settled according to
                       Charlotte's first sketch. She was to accompany Sir William and his second daughter.
                       The improvement of spending a night in London was added in time, and the plan
                       became perfect as plan could be.
                         The only pain was in leaving her father, who would certainly miss her, and who,
                       when it came to the point, so little liked her going, that he told her to write to him, and
                       almost promised to answer her letter.

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                          The farewell between herself and Mr. Wickham was perfectly friendly; on his side
                       even more. His present pursuit could not make him forget that Elizabeth had been the
                       first to excite and to deserve his attention, the first to listen and to pity, the first to be
                       admired; and in his manner of bidding her adieu, wishing her every enjoyment,
                       reminding her of what she was to expect in Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and trusting
                       their opinion of her—their opinion of everybody—would always coincide, there was a
                       solicitude, an interest which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere
                       regard; and she parted from him convinced that, whether married or single, he must
                       always be her model of the amiable and pleasing.
                          Her fellow-travellers the next day were not of a kind to make her think him less
                       agreeable. Sir William Lucas, and his daughter Maria, a good-humoured girl, but as
                       empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be worth hearing, and were
                       listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise. Elizabeth loved
                       absurdities, but she had known Sir William's too long. He could tell her nothing new of
                       the wonders of his presentation and knighthood; and his civilities were worn out, like
                       his information.
                          It was a journey of only twenty-four miles, and they began it so early as to be in
                       Gracechurch Street by noon. As they drove to Mr. Gardiner's door, Jane was at a
                       drawing-room window watching their arrival; when they entered the passage she was
                       there to welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in her face, was pleased to see
                       it healthful and lovely as ever. On the stairs were a troop of little boys and girls, whose
                       eagerness for their cousin's appearance would not allow them to wait in the
                       drawing-room, and whose shyness, as they had not seen her for a twelvemonth,
                       prevented their coming lower. All was joy and kindness. The day passed most
                       pleasantly away; the morning in bustle and shopping, and the evening at one of the
                         Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first object was her sister; and she
                       was more grieved than astonished to hear, in reply to her minute inquiries, that though
                       Jane always struggled to support her spirits, there were periods of dejection. It was
                       reasonable, however, to hope that they would not continue long. Mrs. Gardiner gave
                       her the particulars also of Miss Bingley's visit in Gracechurch Street, and repeated
                       conversations occurring at different times between Jane and herself, which proved that
                       the former had, from her heart, given up the acquaintance.
                         Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion, and complimented her
                       on bearing it so well.
                          "But my dear Elizabeth," she added, "what sort of girl is Miss King? I should be sorry
                       to think our friend mercenary."
                         "Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the
                       mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin? Last
                       Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent; and
                       now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want to find
                       out that he is mercenary."
                          "If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what to think."
                          "She is a very good kind of girl, I believe. I know no harm of her."
                          "But he paid her not the smallest attention till her grandfather's death made her

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                       mistress of this fortune."
                          "No—what should he? If it were not allowable for him to gain my affections because
                       I had no money, what occasion could there be for making love to a girl whom he did
                       not care about, and who was equally poor?"
                          "But there seems an indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her so soon after
                       this event."
                         "A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums
                       which other people may observe. If she does not object to it, why should we?"
                         "Her not objecting does not justify him. It only shows her being deficient in
                       something herself—sense or feeling."
                         "Well," cried Elizabeth, "have it as you choose. He shall be mercenary, and she shall
                       be foolish."
                         "No, Lizzy, that is what I do not choose. I should be sorry, you know, to think ill of a
                       young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire."
                         "Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire;
                       and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of
                       them all. Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not
                       one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid
                       men are the only ones worth knowing, after all."
                          "Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment."
                         Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had the unexpected
                       happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which
                       they proposed taking in the summer.
                         "We have not determined how far it shall carry us," said Mrs. Gardiner, "but,
                       perhaps, to the Lakes."
                          No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the
                       invitation was most ready and grateful. "Oh, my dear, dear aunt," she rapturously cried,
                       "what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to
                       disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what
                       hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other
                       travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We will know
                       where we have gone—we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and
                       rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor when we attempt to
                       describe any particular scene, will we begin quarreling about its relative situation. Let
                       our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers."

                                                          Chapter 28
                          Every object in the next day's journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth; and her

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                       spirits were in a state of enjoyment; for she had seen her sister looking so well as to
                       banish all fear for her health, and the prospect of her northern tour was a constant
                       source of delight.
                         When they left the high road for the lane to Hunsford, every eye was in search of the
                       Parsonage, and every turning expected to bring it in view. The palings of Rosings Park
                       was their boundary on one side. Elizabeth smiled at the recollection of all that she had
                       heard of its inhabitants.
                          At length the Parsonage was discernible. The garden sloping to the road, the house
                       standing in it, the green pales, and the laurel hedge, everything declared they were
                       arriving. Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door, and the carriage stopped at the
                       small gate which led by a short gravel walk to the house, amidst the nods and smiles of
                       the whole party. In a moment they were all out of the chaise, rejoicing at the sight of
                       each other. Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth
                       was more and more satisfied with coming when she found herself so affectionately
                       received. She saw instantly that her cousin's manners were not altered by his marriage;
                       his formal civility was just what it had been, and he detained her some minutes at the
                       gate to hear and satisfy his inquiries after all her family. They were then, with no other
                       delay than his pointing out the neatness of the entrance, taken into the house; and as
                       soon as they were in the parlour, he welcomed them a second time, with ostentatious
                       formality to his humble abode, and punctually repeated all his wife's offers of
                          Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could not help in fancying
                       that in displaying the good proportion of the room, its aspect and its furniture, he
                       addressed himself particularly to her, as if wishing to make her feel what she had lost in
                       refusing him. But though everything seemed neat and comfortable, she was not able to
                       gratify him by any sigh of repentance, and rather looked with wonder at her friend that
                       she could have so cheerful an air with such a companion. When Mr. Collins said
                       anything of which his wife might reasonably be ashamed, which certainly was not
                       unseldom, she involuntarily turned her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could
                       discern a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear. After sitting long
                       enough to admire every article of furniture in the room, from the sideboard to the
                       fender, to give an account of their journey, and of all that had happened in London, Mr.
                       Collins invited them to take a stroll in the garden, which was large and well laid out,
                       and to the cultivation of which he attended himself. To work in this garden was one of
                       his most respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth admired the command of countenance
                       with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulness of the exercise, and owned she
                       encouraged it as much as possible. Here, leading the way through every walk and cross
                       walk, and scarcely allowing them an interval to utter the praises he asked for, every
                       view was pointed out with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind. He could
                       number the fields in every direction, and could tell how many trees there were in the
                       most distant clump. But of all the views which his garden, or which the country or
                       kingdom could boast, none were to be compared with the prospect of Rosings, afforded
                       by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearly opposite the front of his house.
                       It was a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground.
                          From his garden, Mr. Collins would have led them round his two meadows; but the
                       ladies, not having shoes to encounter the remains of a white frost, turned back; and
                       while Sir William accompanied him, Charlotte took her sister and friend over the house,
                       extremely well pleased, probably, to have the opportunity of showing it without her

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                       husband's help. It was rather small, but well built and convenient; and everything was
                       fitted up and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth gave
                       Charlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins could be forgotten, there was really an air of
                       great comfort throughout, and by Charlotte's evident enjoyment of it, Elizabeth
                       supposed he must be often forgotten.
                         She had already learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the country. It was spoken of
                       again while they were at dinner, when Mr. Collins joining in, observed:
                          "Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine de Bourgh
                       on the ensuing Sunday at church, and I need not say you will be delighted with her. She
                       is all affability and condescension, and I doubt not but you will be honoured with some
                       portion of her notice when service is over. I have scarcely any hesitation in saying she
                       will include you and my sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us
                       during your stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is charming. We dine at
                       Rosings twice every week, and are never allowed to walk home. Her ladyship's carriage
                       is regularly ordered for us. I should say, one of her ladyship's carriages, for she has
                         "Lady Catherine is a very respectable, sensible woman indeed," added Charlotte,
                       "and a most attentive neighbour."
                         "Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the sort of woman whom one
                       cannot regard with too much deference."
                         The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire news, and telling again
                       what had already been written; and when it closed, Elizabeth, in the solitude of her
                       chamber, had to meditate upon Charlotte's degree of contentment, to understand her
                       address in guiding, and composure in bearing with, her husband, and to acknowledge
                       that it was all done very well. She had also to anticipate how her visit would pass, the
                       quiet tenor of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions of Mr. Collins, and
                       the gaieties of their intercourse with Rosings. A lively imagination soon settled it all.
                          About the middle of the next day, as she was in her room getting ready for a walk, a
                       sudden noise below seemed to speak the whole house in confusion; and, after listening
                       a moment, she heard somebody running upstairs in a violent hurry, and calling loudly
                       after her. She opened the door and met Maria in the landing place, who, breathless with
                       agitation, cried out—
                         "Oh, my dear Eliza! pray make haste and come into the dining-room, for there is
                       such a sight to be seen! I will not tell you what it is. Make haste, and come down this
                          Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her nothing more, and down they
                       ran into the dining-room, which fronted the lane, in quest of this wonder; It was two
                       ladies stopping in a low phaeton at the garden gate.
                         "And is this all?" cried Elizabeth. "I expected at least that the pigs were got into the
                       garden, and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter."
                          "La! my dear," said Maria, quite shocked at the mistake, "it is not Lady Catherine.
                       The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson, who lives with them; the other is Miss de Bourgh. Only
                       look at her. She is quite a little creature. Who would have thought that she could be so
                       thin and small?"

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                         "She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind. Why does
                       she not come in?"
                         "Oh, Charlotte says she hardly ever does. It is the greatest of favours when Miss de
                       Bourgh comes in."
                         "I like her appearance," said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. "She looks sickly and
                       cross. Yes, she will do for him very well. She will make him a very proper wife."
                          Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in conversation with the
                       ladies; and Sir William, to Elizabeth's high diversion, was stationed in the doorway, in
                       earnest contemplation of the greatness before him, and constantly bowing whenever
                       Miss de Bourgh looked that way.
                          At length there was nothing more to be said; the ladies drove on, and the others
                       returned into the house. Mr. Collins no sooner saw the two girls than he began to
                       congratulate them on their good fortune, which Charlotte explained by letting them
                       know that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next day.

                                                          Chapter 29
                          Mr. Collins's triumph, in consequence of this invitation, was complete. The power of
                       displaying the grandeur of his patroness to his wondering visitors, and of letting them
                       see her civility towards himself and his wife, was exactly what he had wished for; and
                       that an opportunity of doing it should be given so soon, was such an instance of Lady
                       Catherine's condescension, as he knew not how to admire enough.
                          "I confess," said he, "that I should not have been at all surprised by her ladyship's
                       asking us on Sunday to drink tea and spend the evening at Rosings. I rather expected,
                       from my knowledge of her affability, that it would happen. But who could have
                       foreseen such an attention as this? Who could have imagined that we should receive an
                       invitation to dine there (an invitation, moreover, including the whole party) so
                       immediately after your arrival!"
                          "I am the less surprised at what has happened," replied Sir William, "from that
                       knowledge of what the manners of the great really are, which my situation in life has
                       allowed me to acquire. About the court, such instances of elegant breeding are not
                         Scarcely anything was talked of the whole day or next morning but their visit to
                       Rosings. Mr. Collins was carefully instructing them in what they were to expect, that
                       the sight of such rooms, so many servants, and so splendid a dinner, might not wholly
                       overpower them.
                          When the ladies were separating for the toilette, he said to Elizabeth—
                          "Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine
                       is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her
                       daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to

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                       the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the
                       worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank
                          While they were dressing, he came two or three times to their different doors, to
                       recommend their being quick, as Lady Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting
                       for her dinner. Such formidable accounts of her ladyship, and her manner of living,
                       quite frightened Maria Lucas who had been little used to company, and she looked
                       forward to her introduction at Rosings with as much apprehension as her father had
                       done to his presentation at St. James's.
                          As the weather was fine, they had a pleasant walk of about half a mile across the
                       park. Every park has its beauty and its prospects; and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased
                       with, though she could not be in such raptures as Mr. Collins expected the scene to
                       inspire, and was but slightly affected by his enumeration of the windows in front of the
                       house, and his relation of what the glazing altogether had originally cost Sir Lewis de
                          When they ascended the steps to the hall, Maria's alarm was every moment
                       increasing, and even Sir William did not look perfectly calm. Elizabeth's courage did
                       not fail her. She had heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from any
                       extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue, and the mere stateliness of money or rank
                       she thought she could witness without trepidation.
                          From the entrance-hall, of which Mr. Collins pointed out, with a rapturous air, the
                       fine proportion and the finished ornaments, they followed the servants through an
                       ante-chamber, to the room where Lady Catherine, her daughter, and Mrs. Jenkinson
                       were sitting. Her ladyship, with great condescension, arose to receive them; and as Mrs.
                       Collins had settled it with her husband that the office of introduction should be hers, it
                       was performed in a proper manner, without any of those apologies and thanks which he
                       would have thought necessary.
                         In spite of having been at St. James's Sir William was so completely awed by the
                       grandeur surrounding him, that he had but just courage enough to make a very low bow,
                       and take his seat without saying a word; and his daughter, frightened almost out of her
                       senses, sat on the edge of her chair, not knowing which way to look. Elizabeth found
                       herself quite equal to the scene, and could observe the three ladies before her
                       composedly. Lady Catherine was a tall, large woman, with strongly-marked features,
                       which might once have been handsome. Her air was not conciliating, nor was her
                       manner of receiving them such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She
                       was not rendered formidable by silence; but whatever she said was spoken in so
                       authoritative a tone, as marked her self-importance, and brought Mr. Wickham
                       immediately to Elizabeth's mind; and from the observation of the day altogether, she
                       believed Lady Catherine to be exactly what he represented.
                          When, after examining the mother, in whose countenance and deportment she soon
                       found some resemblance of Mr. Darcy, she turned her eyes on the daughter, she could
                       almost have joined in Maria's astonishment at her being so thin and so small. There was
                       neither in figure nor face any likeness between the ladies. Miss de Bourgh was pale and
                       sickly; her features, though not plain, were insignificant; and she spoke very little,
                       except in a low voice, to Mrs. Jenkinson, in whose appearance there was nothing
                       remarkable, and who was entirely engaged in listening to what she said, and placing a
                       screen in the proper direction before her eyes.

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                          After sitting a few minutes, they were all sent to one of the windows to admire the
                       view, Mr. Collins attending them to point out its beauties, and Lady Catherine kindly
                       informing them that it was much better worth looking at in the summer.
                          The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the servants and all the
                       articles of plate which Mr. Collins had promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he
                       took his seat at the bottom of the table, by her ladyship's desire, and looked as if he felt
                       that life could furnish nothing greater. He carved, and ate, and praised with delighted
                       alacrity; and every dish was commended, first by him and then by Sir William, who was
                       now enough recovered to echo whatever his son-in-law said, in a manner which
                       Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear. But Lady Catherine seemed gratified
                       by their excessive admiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any dish
                       on the table proved a novelty to them. The party did not supply much conversation.
                       Elizabeth was ready to speak whenever there was an opening, but she was seated
                       between Charlotte and Miss de Bourgh—the former of whom was engaged in listening
                       to Lady Catherine, and the latter said not a word to her all dinner-time. Mrs. Jenkinson
                       was chiefly employed in watching how little Miss de Bourgh ate, pressing her to try
                       some other dish, and fearing she was indisposed. Maria thought speaking out of the
                       question, and the gentlemen did nothing but eat and admire.
                          When the ladies returned to the drawing-room, there was little to be done but to hear
                       Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in,
                       delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner, as proved that she was
                       not used to have her judgement controverted. She inquired into Charlotte's domestic
                       concerns familiarly and minutely, gave her a great deal of advice as to the management
                       of them all; told her how everything ought to be regulated in so small a family as hers,
                       and instructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that
                       nothing was beneath this great lady's attention, which could furnish her with an
                       occasion of dictating to others. In the intervals of her discourse with Mrs. Collins, she
                       addressed a variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth, but especially to the latter, of
                       whose connections she knew the least, and who she observed to Mrs. Collins was a
                       very genteel, pretty kind of girl. She asked her, at different times, how many sisters she
                       had, whether they were older or younger than herself, whether any of them were likely
                       to be married, whether they were handsome, where they had been educated, what
                       carriage her father kept, and what had been her mother's maiden name? Elizabeth felt
                       all the impertinence of her questions but answered them very composedly. Lady
                       Catherine then observed,
                         "Your father's estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think. For your sake," turning to
                       Charlotte, "I am glad of it; but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing estates from the
                       female line. It was not thought necessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh's family. Do you play
                       and sing, Miss Bennet?"
                          "A little."
                          "Oh! then—some time or other we shall be happy to hear you. Our instrument is a
                       capital one, probably superior to——You shall try it some day. Do your sisters play and
                          "One of them does."
                         "Why did not you all learn? You ought all to have learned. The Miss Webbs all play,
                       and their father has not so good an income as yours. Do you draw?"

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                          "No, not at all."
                          "What, none of you?"
                          "Not one."
                         "That is very strange. But I suppose you had no opportunity. Your mother should
                       have taken you to town every spring for the benefit of masters."
                          "My mother would have had no objection, but my father hates London."
                          "Has your governess left you?"
                          "We never had any governess."
                         "No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a
                       governess! I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to
                       your education."
                          Elizabeth could hardly help smiling as she assured her that had not been the case.
                         "Then, who taught you? who attended to you? Without a governess, you must have
                       been neglected."
                         "Compared with some families, I believe we were; but such of us as wished to learn
                       never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters
                       that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle, certainly might."
                          "Aye, no doubt; but that is what a governess will prevent, and if I had known your
                       mother, I should have advised her most strenuously to engage one. I always say that
                       nothing is to be done in education without steady and regular instruction, and nobody
                       but a governess can give it. It is wonderful how many families I have been the means of
                       supplying in that way. I am always glad to get a young person well placed out. Four
                       nieces of Mrs. Jenkinson are most delightfully situated through my means; and it was
                       but the other day that I recommended another young person, who was merely
                       accidentally mentioned to me, and the family are quite delighted with her. Mrs. Collins,
                       did I tell you of Lady Metcalf's calling yesterday to thank me? She finds Miss Pope a
                       treasure. 'Lady Catherine,' said she, 'you have given me a treasure.' Are any of your
                       younger sisters out, Miss Bennet?"
                          "Yes, ma'am, all."
                         "All! What, all five out at once? Very odd! And you only the second. The younger
                       ones out before the elder ones are married! Your younger sisters must be very young?"
                          "Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is full young to be much in company.
                       But really, ma'am, I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should
                       not have their share of society and amusement, because the elder may not have the
                       means or inclination to marry early. The last-born has as good a right to the pleasures of
                       youth at the first. And to be kept back on such a motive! I think it would not be very
                       likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind."
                         "Upon my word," said her ladyship, "you give your opinion very decidedly for so
                       young a person. Pray, what is your age?"
                         "With three younger sisters grown up," replied Elizabeth, smiling, "your ladyship can
                       hardly expect me to own it."

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                         Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and
                       Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so
                       much dignified impertinence.
                         "You cannot be more than twenty, I am sure, therefore you need not conceal your
                          "I am not one-and-twenty."
                          When the gentlemen had joined them, and tea was over, the card-tables were placed.
                       Lady Catherine, Sir William, and Mr. and Mrs. Collins sat down to quadrille; and as
                       Miss de Bourgh chose to play at cassino, the two girls had the honour of assisting Mrs.
                       Jenkinson to make up her party. Their table was superlatively stupid. Scarcely a syllable
                       was uttered that did not relate to the game, except when Mrs. Jenkinson expressed her
                       fears of Miss de Bourgh's being too hot or too cold, or having too much or too little
                       light. A great deal more passed at the other table. Lady Catherine was generally
                       speaking—stating the mistakes of the three others, or relating some anecdote of herself.
                       Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to everything her ladyship said, thanking her for
                       every fish he won, and apologising if he thought he won too many. Sir William did not
                       say much. He was storing his memory with anecdotes and noble names.
                          When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as they chose, the tables
                       were broken up, the carriage was offered to Mrs. Collins, gratefully accepted and
                       immediately ordered. The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine
                       determine what weather they were to have on the morrow. From these instructions they
                       were summoned by the arrival of the coach; and with many speeches of thankfulness
                       on Mr. Collins's side and as many bows on Sir William's they departed. As soon as they
                       had driven from the door, Elizabeth was called on by her cousin to give her opinion of
                       all that she had seen at Rosings, which, for Charlotte's sake, she made more favourable
                       than it really was. But her commendation, though costing her some trouble, could by no
                       means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was very soon obliged to take her ladyship's praise
                       into his own hands.

                                                          Chapter 30
                         Sir William stayed only a week at Hunsford, but his visit was long enough to
                       convince him of his daughter's being most comfortably settled, and of her possessing
                       such a husband and such a neighbour as were not often met with. While Sir William
                       was with them, Mr. Collins devoted his morning to driving him out in his gig, and
                       showing him the country; but when he went away, the whole family returned to their
                       usual employments, and Elizabeth was thankful to find that they did not see more of her
                       cousin by the alteration, for the chief of the time between breakfast and dinner was
                       now passed by him either at work in the garden or in reading and writing, and looking
                       out of the window in his own book-room, which fronted the road. The room in which
                       the ladies sat was backwards. Elizabeth had at first rather wondered that Charlotte
                       should not prefer the dining-parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, and
                       had a more pleasant aspect; but she soon saw that her friend had an excellent reason for
                       what she did, for Mr. Collins would undoubtedly have been much less in his own

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                       apartment, had they sat in one equally lively; and she gave Charlotte credit for the
                          From the drawing-room they could distinguish nothing in the lane, and were indebted
                       to Mr. Collins for the knowledge of what carriages went along, and how often
                       especially Miss de Bourgh drove by in her phaeton, which he never failed coming to
                       inform them of, though it happened almost every day. She not unfrequently stopped at
                       the Parsonage, and had a few minutes' conversation with Charlotte, but was scarcely
                       ever prevailed upon to get out.
                          Very few days passed in which Mr. Collins did not walk to Rosings, and not many in
                       which his wife did not think it necessary to go likewise; and till Elizabeth recollected
                       that there might be other family livings to be disposed of, she could not understand the
                       sacrifice of so many hours. Now and then they were honoured with a call from her
                       ladyship, and nothing escaped her observation that was passing in the room during these
                       visits. She examined into their employments, looked at their work, and advised them to
                       do it differently; found fault with the arrangement of the furniture; or detected the
                       housemaid in negligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to do it only for
                       the sake of finding out that Mrs. Collins's joints of meat were too large for her family.
                          Elizabeth soon perceived, that though this great lady was not in commission of the
                       peace of the county, she was a most active magistrate in her own parish, the minutest
                       concerns of which were carried to her by Mr. Collins; and whenever any of the
                       cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented, or too poor, she sallied forth
                       into the village to settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into
                       harmony and plenty.
                          The entertainment of dining at Rosings was repeated about twice a week; and,
                       allowing for the loss of Sir William, and there being only one card-table in the evening,
                       every such entertainment was the counterpart of the first. Their other engagements
                       were few, as the style of living in the neighbourhood in general was beyond Mr.
                       Collins's reach. This, however, was no evil to Elizabeth, and upon the whole she spent
                       her time comfortably enough; there were half-hours of pleasant conversation with
                       Charlotte, and the weather was so fine for the time of year that she had often great
                       enjoyment out of doors. Her favourite walk, and where she frequently went while the
                       others were calling on Lady Catherine, was along the open grove which edged that side
                       of the park, where there was a nice sheltered path, which no one seemed to value but
                       herself, and where she felt beyond the reach of Lady Catherine's curiosity.
                          In this quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easter was
                       approaching, and the week preceding it was to bring an addition to the family at
                       Rosings, which in so small a circle must be important. Elizabeth had heard soon after
                       her arrival that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few weeks, and though
                       there were not many of her acquaintances whom she did not prefer, his coming would
                       furnish one comparatively new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be
                       amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley's designs on him were, by his behaviour to
                       his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine, who talked of his
                       coming with the greatest satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration,
                       and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Miss
                       Lucas and herself.
                         His arrival was soon known at the Parsonage; for Mr. Collins was walking the whole
                       morning within view of the lodges opening into Hunsford Lane, in order to have the

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                       earliest assurance of it, and after making his bow as the carriage turned into the Park,
                       hurried home with the great intelligence. On the following morning he hastened to
                       Rosings to pay his respects. There were two nephews of Lady Catherine to require
                       them, for Mr. Darcy had brought with him a Colonel Fitzwilliam, the younger son of his
                       uncle Lord ——, and, to the great surprise of all the party, when Mr. Collins returned,
                       the gentlemen accompanied him. Charlotte had seen them from her husband's room,
                       crossing the road, and immediately running into the other, told the girls what an honour
                       they might expect, adding:
                          "I may thank you, Eliza, for this piece of civility. Mr. Darcy would never have come
                       so soon to wait upon me."
                          Elizabeth had scarcely time to disclaim all right to the compliment, before their
                       approach was announced by the door-bell, and shortly afterwards the three gentlemen
                       entered the room. Colonel Fitzwilliam, who led the way, was about thirty, not
                       handsome, but in person and address most truly the gentleman. Mr. Darcy looked just
                       as he had been used to look in Hertfordshire—paid his compliments, with his usual
                       reserve, to Mrs. Collins, and whatever might be his feelings toward her friend, met her
                       with every appearance of composure. Elizabeth merely curtseyed to him without saying
                       a word.
                          Colonel Fitzwilliam entered into conversation directly with the readiness and ease of
                       a well-bred man, and talked very pleasantly; but his cousin, after having addressed a
                       slight observation on the house and garden to Mrs. Collins, sat for some time without
                       speaking to anybody. At length, however, his civility was so far awakened as to inquire
                       of Elizabeth after the health of her family. She answered him in the usual way, and after
                       a moment's pause, added:
                         "My eldest sister has been in town these three months. Have you never happened to
                       see her there?"
                          She was perfectly sensible that he never had; but she wished to see whether he would
                       betray any consciousness of what had passed between the Bingleys and Jane, and she
                       thought he looked a little confused as he answered that he had never been so fortunate
                       as to meet Miss Bennet. The subject was pursued no farther, and the gentlemen soon
                       afterwards went away.

                                                          Chapter 31
                          Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners were very much admired at the Parsonage, and the
                       ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasures of their engagements at
                       Rosings. It was some days, however, before they received any invitation thither—for
                       while there were visitors in the house, they could not be necessary; and it was not till
                       Easter-day, almost a week after the gentlemen's arrival, that they were honoured by
                       such an attention, and then they were merely asked on leaving church to come there in
                       the evening. For the last week they had seen very little of Lady Catherine or her
                       daughter. Colonel Fitzwilliam had called at the Parsonage more than once during the
                       time, but Mr. Darcy they had seen only at church.

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                         The invitation was accepted of course, and at a proper hour they joined the party in
                       Lady Catherine's drawing-room. Her ladyship received them civilly, but it was plain
                       that their company was by no means so acceptable as when she could get nobody else;
                       and she was, in fact, almost engrossed by her nephews, speaking to them, especially to
                       Darcy, much more than to any other person in the room.
                         Colonel Fitzwilliam seemed really glad to see them; anything was a welcome relief to
                       him at Rosings; and Mrs. Collins's pretty friend had moreover caught his fancy very
                       much. He now seated himself by her, and talked so agreeably of Kent and
                       Hertfordshire, of travelling and staying at home, of new books and music, that Elizabeth
                       had never been half so well entertained in that room before; and they conversed with so
                       much spirit and flow, as to draw the attention of Lady Catherine herself, as well as of
                       Mr. Darcy. His eyes had been soon and repeatedly turned towards them with a look of
                       curiosity; and that her ladyship, after a while, shared the feeling, was more openly
                       acknowledged, for she did not scruple to call out:
                         "What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam? What is it you are talking of? What are
                       you telling Miss Bennet? Let me hear what it is."
                          "We are speaking of music, madam," said he, when no longer able to avoid a reply.
                         "Of music! Then pray speak aloud. It is of all subjects my delight. I must have my
                       share in the conversation if you are speaking of music. There are few people in
                       England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better
                       natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. And so would
                       Anne, if her health had allowed her to apply. I am confident that she would have
                       performed delightfully. How does Georgiana get on, Darcy?"
                          Mr. Darcy spoke with affectionate praise of his sister's proficiency.
                          "I am very glad to hear such a good account of her," said Lady Catherine; "and pray
                       tell her from me, that she cannot expect to excel if she does not practice a good deal."
                         "I assure you, madam," he replied, "that she does not need such advice. She practises
                       very constantly."
                          "So much the better. It cannot be done too much; and when I next write to her, I
                       shall charge her not to neglect it on any account. I often tell young ladies that no
                       excellence in music is to be acquired without constant practice. I have told Miss Bennet
                       several times, that she will never play really well unless she practises more; and though
                       Mrs. Collins has no instrument, she is very welcome, as I have often told her, to come
                       to Rosings every day, and play on the pianoforte in Mrs. Jenkinson's room. She would
                       be in nobody's way, you know, in that part of the house."
                          Mr. Darcy looked a little ashamed of his aunt's ill-breeding, and made no answer.
                           When coffee was over, Colonel Fitzwilliam reminded Elizabeth of having promised
                       to play to him; and she sat down directly to the instrument. He drew a chair near her.
                       Lady Catherine listened to half a song, and then talked, as before, to her other nephew;
                       till the latter walked away from her, and making with his usual deliberation towards the
                       pianoforte stationed himself so as to command a full view of the fair performer's
                       countenance. Elizabeth saw what he was doing, and at the first convenient pause,
                       turned to him with an arch smile, and said:
                          "You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? I will

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                       not be alarmed though your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me
                       that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at
                       every attempt to intimidate me."
                         "I shall not say you are mistaken," he replied, "because you could not really believe
                       me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your
                       acquaintance long enough to know that you find great enjoyment in occasionally
                       professing opinions which in fact are not your own."
                         Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam,
                       "Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a
                       word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so able to expose my
                       real character, in a part of the world where I had hoped to pass myself off with some
                       degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you
                       knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire—and, give me leave to say, very impolitic
                       too—for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out as will shock
                       your relations to hear."
                          "I am not afraid of you," said he, smilingly.
                         "Pray let me hear what you have to accuse him of," cried Colonel Fitzwilliam. "I
                       should like to know how he behaves among strangers."
                          "You shall hear then—but prepare yourself for something very dreadful. The first
                       time of my ever seeing him in Hertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball—and at this
                       ball, what do you think he did? He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were
                       scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in
                       want of a partner. Mr. Darcy, you cannot deny the fact."
                         "I had not at that time the honour of knowing any lady in the assembly beyond my
                       own party."
                         "True; and nobody can ever be introduced in a ball-room. Well, Colonel Fitzwilliam,
                       what do I play next? My fingers wait your orders."
                         "Perhaps," said Darcy, "I should have judged better, had I sought an introduction;
                       but I am ill-qualified to recommend myself to strangers."
                          "Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?" said Elizabeth, still addressing Colonel
                       Fitzwilliam. "Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in
                       the world, is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?"
                         "I can answer your question," said Fitzwilliam, "without applying to him. It is
                       because he will not give himself the trouble."
                         "I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of
                       conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of
                       conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
                          "My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly
                       manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and
                       do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own
                       fault—because I will not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my
                       fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."
                          Darcy smiled and said, "You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much

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                       better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We
                       neither of us perform to strangers."
                         Here they were interrupted by Lady Catherine, who called out to know what they
                       were talking of. Elizabeth immediately began playing again. Lady Catherine
                       approached, and, after listening for a few minutes, said to Darcy:
                          "Miss Bennet would not play at all amiss if she practised more, and could have the
                       advantage of a London master. She has a very good notion of fingering, though her
                       taste is not equal to Anne's. Anne would have been a delightful performer, had her
                       health allowed her to learn."
                          Elizabeth looked at Darcy to see how cordially he assented to his cousin's praise; but
                       neither at that moment nor at any other could she discern any symptom of love; and
                       from the whole of his behaviour to Miss de Bourgh she derived this comfort for Miss
                       Bingley, that he might have been just as likely to marry her, had she been his relation.
                           Lady Catherine continued her remarks on Elizabeth's performance, mixing with them
                       many instructions on execution and taste. Elizabeth received them with all the
                       forbearance of civility, and, at the request of the gentlemen, remained at the instrument
                       till her ladyship's carriage was ready to take them all home.

                                                           Chapter 32
                          Elizabeth was sitting by herself the next morning, and writing to Jane while Mrs.
                       Collins and Maria were gone on business into the village, when she was startled by a
                       ring at the door, the certain signal of a visitor. As she had heard no carriage, she thought
                       it not unlikely to be Lady Catherine, and under that apprehension was putting away her
                       half-finished letter that she might escape all impertinent questions, when the door
                       opened, and, to her very great surprise, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the
                          He seemed astonished too on finding her alone, and apologised for his intrusion by
                       letting her know that he had understood all the ladies were to be within.
                         They then sat down, and when her inquiries after Rosings were made, seemed in
                       danger of sinking into total silence. It was absolutely necessary, therefore, to think of
                       something, and in this emergence recollecting when she had seen him last in
                       Hertfordshire, and feeling curious to know what he would say on the subject of their
                       hasty departure, she observed:
                          "How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last November, Mr. Darcy! It must
                       have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Bingley to see you all after him so soon; for,
                       if I recollect right, he went but the day before. He and his sisters were well, I hope,
                       when you left London?"
                          "Perfectly so, I thank you."
                          She found that she was to receive no other answer, and, after a short pause added:

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                         "I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea of ever returning to
                       Netherfield again?"
                          "I have never heard him say so; but it is probable that he may spend very little of his
                       time there in the future. He has many friends, and is at a time of life when friends and
                       engagements are continually increasing."
                         "If he means to be but little at Netherfield, it would be better for the neighbourhood
                       that he should give up the place entirely, for then we might possibly get a settled family
                       there. But, perhaps, Mr. Bingley did not take the house so much for the convenience of
                       the neighbourhood as for his own, and we must expect him to keep it or quit it on the
                       same principle."
                          "I should not be surprised," said Darcy, "if he were to give it up as soon as any
                       eligible purchase offers."
                         Elizabeth made no answer. She was afraid of talking longer of his friend; and, having
                       nothing else to say, was now determined to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him.
                         He took the hint, and soon began with, "This seems a very comfortable house. Lady
                       Catherine, I believe, did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford."
                         "I believe she did—and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness on a
                       more grateful object."
                          "Mr. Collins appears to be very fortunate in his choice of a wife."
                         "Yes, indeed, his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few
                       sensible women who would have accepted him, or have made him happy if they had.
                       My friend has an excellent understanding—though I am not certain that I consider her
                       marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing she ever did. She seems perfectly happy,
                       however, and in a prudential light it is certainly a very good match for her."
                         "It must be very agreeable for her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own
                       family and friends."
                          "An easy distance, do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles."
                         "And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day's journey. Yes, I
                       call it a very easy distance."
                          "I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match,"
                       cried Elizabeth. "I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family."
                         "It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire. Anything beyond the very
                       neighbourhood of Longbourn, I suppose, would appear far."
                         As he spoke there was a sort of smile which Elizabeth fancied she understood; he
                       must be supposing her to be thinking of Jane and Netherfield, and she blushed as she
                          "I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too near her family. The far
                       and the near must be relative, and depend on many varying circumstances. Where there
                       is fortune to make the expenses of travelling unimportant, distance becomes no evil.
                       But that is not the case here. Mr. and Mrs. Collins have a comfortable income, but not
                       such a one as will allow of frequent journeys—and I am persuaded my friend would not

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                       call herself near her family under less than half the present distance."
                         Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her, and said, "You cannot have a right to
                       such very strong local attachment. You cannot have been always at Longbourn."
                         Elizabeth looked surprised. The gentleman experienced some change of feeling; he
                       drew back his chair, took a newspaper from the table, and glancing over it, said, in a
                       colder voice:
                          "Are you pleased with Kent?"
                          A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensued, on either side calm and
                       concise—and soon put an end to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just
                       returned from her walk. The tete-a-tete surprised them. Mr. Darcy related the mistake
                       which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet, and after sitting a few minutes
                       longer without saying much to anybody, went away.
                         "What can be the meaning of this?" said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone. "My
                       dear, Eliza, he must be in love with you, or he would never have called us in this
                       familiar way."
                          But when Elizabeth told of his silence; it did not seem very likely, even to Charlotte's
                       wishes, to be the case; and after various conjectures, they could at last only suppose his
                       visit to proceed from the difficulty of finding anything to do, which was the more
                       probable from the time of year. All field sports were over. Within doors there was Lady
                       Catherine, books, and a billiard-table, but gentlemen cannot always be within doors;
                       and in the nearness of the Parsonage, or the pleasantness of the walk to it, or of the
                       people who lived in it, the two cousins found a temptation from this period of walking
                       thither almost every day. They called at various times of the morning, sometimes
                       separately, sometimes together, and now and then accompanied by their aunt. It was
                       plain to them all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came because he had pleasure in their society,
                       a persuasion which of course recommended him still more; and Elizabeth was reminded
                       by her own satisfaction in being with him, as well as by his evident admiration of her, of
                       her former favourite George Wickham; and though, in comparing them, she saw there
                       was less captivating softness in Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners, she believed he might
                       have the best informed mind.
                          But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage, it was more difficult to
                       understand. It could not be for society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together
                       without opening his lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather
                       than of choice—a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure to himself. He seldom appeared
                       really animated. Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. Colonel Fitzwilliam's
                       occasionally laughing at his stupidity, proved that he was generally different, which her
                       own knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would liked to have believed
                       this change the effect of love, and the object of that love her friend Eliza, she set
                       herself seriously to work to find it out. She watched him whenever they were at
                       Rosings, and whenever he came to Hunsford; but without much success. He certainly
                       looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. It was
                       an earnest, steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration
                       in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.
                         She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to
                       her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea; and Mrs. Collins did not think it right to
                       press the subject, from the danger of raising expectations which might only end in

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                       disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not of a doubt, that all her friend's dislike
                       would vanish, if she could suppose him to be in her power.
                          In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her marrying Colonel
                       Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the most pleasant man; he certainly admired
                       her, and his situation in life was most eligible; but, to counterbalance these advantages,
                       Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church, and his cousin could have none at

                                                           Chapter 33
                          More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the park, unexpectedly meet Mr.
                       Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no
                       one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him
                       at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time,
                       therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or
                       a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal inquiries
                       and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back
                       and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of
                       talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that
                       he was asking some odd unconnected questions—about her pleasure in being at
                       Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins's
                       happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings and her not perfectly understanding the
                       house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be
                       staying there too. His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in
                       his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean an allusion to what
                       might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find
                       herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.
                         She was engaged one day as she walked, in perusing Jane's last letter, and dwelling
                       on some passages which proved that Jane had not written in spirits, when, instead of
                       being again surprised by Mr. Darcy, she saw on looking up that Colonel Fitzwilliam was
                       meeting her. Putting away the letter immediately and forcing a smile, she said:
                          "I did not know before that you ever walked this way."
                         "I have been making the tour of the park," he replied, "as I generally do every year,
                       and intend to close it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much farther?"
                          "No, I should have turned in a moment."
                          And accordingly she did turn, and they walked towards the Parsonage together.
                          "Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?" said she.
                         "Yes—if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges the
                       business just as he pleases."
                          "And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least pleasure in the

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                       great power of choice. I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of
                       doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy."
                          "He likes to have his own way very well," replied Colonel Fitzwilliam. "But so we all
                       do. It is only that he has better means of having it than many others, because he is rich,
                       and many others are poor. I speak feelingly. A younger son, you know, must be inured
                       to self-denial and dependence."
                          "In my opinion, the younger son of an earl can know very little of either. Now
                       seriously, what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence? When have you
                       been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose, or procuring
                       anything you had a fancy for?"
                         "These are home questions—and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced many
                       hardships of that nature. But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from want of
                       money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like."
                          "Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do."
                          "Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of
                       life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."
                          "Is this," thought Elizabeth, "meant for me?" and she coloured at the idea; but,
                       recovering herself, said in a lively tone, "And pray, what is the usual price of an earl's
                       younger son? Unless the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above
                       fifty thousand pounds."
                          He answered her in the same style, and the subject dropped. To interrupt a silence
                       which might make him fancy her affected with what had passed, she soon afterwards
                          "I imagine your cousin brought you down with him chiefly for the sake of having
                       someone at his disposal. I wonder he does not marry, to secure a lasting convenience of
                       that kind. But, perhaps, his sister does as well for the present, and, as she is under his
                       sole care, he may do what he likes with her."
                         "No," said Colonel Fitzwilliam, "that is an advantage which he must divide with me. I
                       am joined with him in the guardianship of Miss Darcy."
                          "Are you indeed? And pray what sort of guardians do you make? Does your charge
                       give you much trouble? Young ladies of her age are sometimes a little difficult to
                       manage, and if she has the true Darcy spirit, she may like to have her own way."
                          As she spoke she observed him looking at her earnestly; and the manner in which he
                       immediately asked her why she supposed Miss Darcy likely to give them any
                       uneasiness, convinced her that she had somehow or other got pretty near the truth. She
                       directly replied:
                          "You need not be frightened. I never heard any harm of her; and I dare say she is one
                       of the most tractable creatures in the world. She is a very great favourite with some
                       ladies of my acquaintance, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. I think I have heard you say
                       that you know them."
                          "I know them a little. Their brother is a pleasant gentlemanlike man—he is a great
                       friend of Darcy's."

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                          "Oh! yes," said Elizabeth drily; "Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley, and
                       takes a prodigious deal of care of him."
                         "Care of him! Yes, I really believe Darcy does take care of him in those points where
                       he most wants care. From something that he told me in our journey hither, I have
                       reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him. But I ought to beg his pardon, for I
                       have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant. It was all conjecture."
                          "What is it you mean?"
                         "It is a circumstance which Darcy could not wish to be generally known, because if it
                       were to get round to the lady's family, it would be an unpleasant thing."
                          "You may depend upon my not mentioning it."
                          "And remember that I have not much reason for supposing it to be Bingley. What he
                       told me was merely this: that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend
                       from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage, but without mentioning names
                       or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the
                       kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and from knowing them to have
                       been together the whole of last summer."
                          "Did Mr. Darcy give you reasons for this interference?"
                          "I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady."
                          "And what arts did he use to separate them?"
                         "He did not talk to me of his own arts," said Fitzwilliam, smiling. "He only told me
                       what I have now told you."
                         Elizabeth made no answer, and walked on, her heart swelling with indignation. After
                       watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful.
                         "I am thinking of what you have been telling me," said she. "Your cousin's conduct
                       does not suit my feelings. Why was he to be the judge?"
                          "You are rather disposed to call his interference officious?"
                          "I do not see what right Mr. Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend's
                       inclination, or why, upon his own judgement alone, he was to determine and direct in
                       what manner his friend was to be happy. But," she continued, recollecting herself, "as
                       we know none of the particulars, it is not fair to condemn him. It is not to be supposed
                       that there was much affection in the case."
                         "That is not an unnatural surmise," said Fitzwilliam, "but it is a lessening of the
                       honour of my cousin's triumph very sadly."
                          This was spoken jestingly; but it appeared to her so just a picture of Mr. Darcy, that
                       she would not trust herself with an answer, and therefore, abruptly changing the
                       conversation talked on indifferent matters until they reached the Parsonage. There, shut
                       into her own room, as soon as their visitor left them, she could think without
                       interruption of all that she had heard. It was not to be supposed that any other people
                       could be meant than those with whom she was connected. There could not exist in the
                       world two men over whom Mr. Darcy could have such boundless influence. That he
                       had been concerned in the measures taken to separate Bingley and Jane she had never

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                       doubted; but she had always attributed to Miss Bingley the principal design and
                       arrangement of them. If his own vanity, however, did not mislead him, he was the
                       cause, his pride and caprice were the cause, of all that Jane had suffered, and still
                       continued to suffer. He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most
                       affectionate, generous heart in the world; and no one could say how lasting an evil he
                       might have inflicted.
                          "There were some very strong objections against the lady," were Colonel
                       Fitzwilliam's words; and those strong objections probably were, her having one uncle
                       who was a country attorney, and another who was in business in London.
                          "To Jane herself," she exclaimed, "there could be no possibility of objection; all
                       loveliness and goodness as she is!—her understanding excellent, her mind improved,
                       and her manners captivating. Neither could anything be urged against my father, who,
                       though with some peculiarities, has abilities Mr. Darcy himself need not disdain, and
                       respectability which he will probably never reach." When she thought of her mother,
                       her confidence gave way a little; but she would not allow that any objections there had
                       material weight with Mr. Darcy, whose pride, she was convinced, would receive a
                       deeper wound from the want of importance in his friend's connections, than from their
                       want of sense; and she was quite decided, at last, that he had been partly governed by
                       this worst kind of pride, and partly by the wish of retaining Mr. Bingley for his sister.
                          The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned, brought on a headache; and it
                       grew so much worse towards the evening, that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr.
                       Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were engaged
                       to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really unwell, did not press her to go and
                       as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her; but Mr. Collins could not
                       conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine's being rather displeased by her staying at

                                                           Chapter 34
                          When they were gone, Elizabeth, as if intending to exasperate herself as much as
                       possible against Mr. Darcy, chose for her employment the examination of all the letters
                       which Jane had written to her since her being in Kent. They contained no actual
                       complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, or any communication of
                       present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a want of that
                       cheerfulness which had been used to characterise her style, and which, proceeding from
                       the serenity of a mind at ease with itself and kindly disposed towards everyone, had
                       been scarcely ever clouded. Elizabeth noticed every sentence conveying the idea of
                       uneasiness, with an attention which it had hardly received on the first perusal. Mr.
                       Darcy's shameful boast of what misery he had been able to inflict, gave her a keener
                       sense of her sister's sufferings. It was some consolation to think that his visit to Rosings
                       was to end on the day after the next—and, a still greater, that in less than a fortnight
                       she should herself be with Jane again, and enabled to contribute to the recovery of her
                       spirits, by all that affection could do.
                          She could not think of Darcy's leaving Kent without remembering that his cousin was

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                       to go with him; but Colonel Fitzwilliam had made it clear that he had no intentions at
                       all, and agreeable as he was, she did not mean to be unhappy about him.
                          While settling this point, she was suddenly roused by the sound of the door-bell, and
                       her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam himself,
                       who had once before called late in the evening, and might now come to inquire
                       particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and her spirits were very
                       differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Darcy walk into the
                       room. In an hurried manner he immediately began an inquiry after her health, imputing
                       his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better. She answered him with cold civility.
                       He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth
                       was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards
                       her in an agitated manner, and thus began:
                          "In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must
                       allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
                          Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and
                       was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement; and the avowal of all that he
                       felt, and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well; but there were
                       feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the
                       subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a
                       degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were
                       dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but
                       was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
                          In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of
                       such a man's affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at
                       first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent
                       language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to
                       answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing
                       to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found
                       impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by
                       her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of
                       a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance
                       expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and, when
                       he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said:
                           "In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of
                       obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is
                       natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank
                       you. But I cannot—I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly
                       bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone. It has been
                       most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings
                       which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have
                       little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation."
                          Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantelpiece with his eyes fixed on her face,
                       seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion
                       became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature.
                       He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips till he
                       believed himself to have attained it. The pause was to Elizabeth's feelings dreadful. At
                       length, with a voice of forced calmness, he said:

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                          "And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might,
                       perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus
                       rejected. But it is of small importance."
                          "I might as well inquire," replied she, "why with so evident a desire of offending and
                       insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your
                       reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I
                       was uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have. Had not my feelings
                       decided against you—had they been indifferent, or had they even been favourable, do
                       you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the
                       means of ruining, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?"
                         As she pronounced these words, Mr. Darcy changed colour; but the emotion was
                       short, and he listened without attempting to interrupt her while she continued:
                         "I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. No motive can excuse the unjust
                       and ungenerous part you acted there. You dare not, you cannot deny, that you have
                       been the principal, if not the only means of dividing them from each other—of exposing
                       one to the censure of the world for caprice and instability, and the other to its derision
                       for disappointed hopes, and involving them both in misery of the acutest kind."
                         She paused, and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which
                       proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse. He even looked at her with a
                       smile of affected incredulity.
                          "Can you deny that you have done it?" she repeated.
                         With assumed tranquillity he then replied: "I have no wish of denying that I did
                       everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my
                       success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself."
                          Elizabeth disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection, but its meaning
                       did not escape, nor was it likely to conciliate her.
                         "But it is not merely this affair," she continued, "on which my dislike is founded.
                       Long before it had taken place my opinion of you was decided. Your character was
                       unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Mr. Wickham. On this
                       subject, what can you have to say? In what imaginary act of friendship can you here
                       defend yourself? or under what misrepresentation can you here impose upon others?"
                          "You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns," said Darcy, in a less
                       tranquil tone, and with a heightened colour.
                         "Who that knows what his misfortunes have been, can help feeling an interest in
                         "His misfortunes!" repeated Darcy contemptuously; "yes, his misfortunes have been
                       great indeed."
                          "And of your infliction," cried Elizabeth with energy. "You have reduced him to his
                       present state of poverty—comparative poverty. You have withheld the advantages
                       which you must know to have been designed for him. You have deprived the best years
                       of his life of that independence which was no less his due than his desert. You have
                       done all this! and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortune with contempt and

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                          "And this," cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across the room, "is your
                       opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining
                       it so fully. My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! But perhaps,"
                       added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, "these offenses might have
                       been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples
                       that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might
                       have been suppressed, had I, with greater policy, concealed my struggles, and flattered
                       you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by
                       reason, by reflection, by everything. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor
                       am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect
                       me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?—to congratulate myself on the
                       hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?"
                          Elizabeth felt herself growing more angry every moment; yet she tried to the utmost
                       to speak with composure when she said:
                          "You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration
                       affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in
                       refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner."
                          She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued:
                         "You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would
                       have tempted me to accept it."
                         Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an expression of
                       mingled incredulity and mortification. She went on:
                          "From the very beginning—from the first moment, I may almost say—of my
                       acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your
                       arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as
                       to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so
                       immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the
                       last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
                         "You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and
                       have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken
                       up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."
                         And with these words he hastily left the room, and Elizabeth heard him the next
                       moment open the front door and quit the house.
                          The tumult of her mind, was now painfully great. She knew not how to support
                       herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half-an-hour. Her
                       astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it.
                       That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! That he should have been
                       in love with her for so many months! So much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of
                       all the objections which had made him prevent his friend's marrying her sister, and
                       which must appear at least with equal force in his own case—was almost incredible! It
                       was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection. But his pride, his
                       abominable pride—his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane—his
                       unpardonable assurance in acknowledging, though he could not justify it, and the
                       unfeeling manner in which he had mentioned Mr. Wickham, his cruelty towards whom
                       he had not attempted to deny, soon overcame the pity which the consideration of his

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                       attachment had for a moment excited. She continued in very agitated reflections till the
                       sound of Lady Catherine's carriage made her feel how unequal she was to encounter
                       Charlotte's observation, and hurried her away to her room.

                                                          Chapter 35
                          Elizabeth awoke the next morning to the same thoughts and meditations which had at
                       length closed her eyes. She could not yet recover from the surprise of what had
                       happened; it was impossible to think of anything else; and, totally indisposed for
                       employment, she resolved, soon after breakfast, to indulge herself in air and exercise.
                       She was proceeding directly to her favourite walk, when the recollection of Mr. Darcy's
                       sometimes coming there stopped her, and instead of entering the park, she turned up the
                       lane, which led farther from the turnpike-road. The park paling was still the boundary
                       on one side, and she soon passed one of the gates into the ground.
                          After walking two or three times along that part of the lane, she was tempted, by the
                       pleasantness of the morning, to stop at the gates and look into the park. The five weeks
                       which she had now passed in Kent had made a great difference in the country, and
                       every day was adding to the verdure of the early trees. She was on the point of
                       continuing her walk, when she caught a glimpse of a gentleman within the sort of grove
                       which edged the park; he was moving that way; and, fearful of its being Mr. Darcy, she
                       was directly retreating. But the person who advanced was now near enough to see her,
                       and stepping forward with eagerness, pronounced her name. She had turned away; but
                       on hearing herself called, though in a voice which proved it to be Mr. Darcy, she moved
                       again towards the gate. He had by that time reached it also, and, holding out a letter,
                       which she instinctively took, said, with a look of haughty composure, "I have been
                       walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you. Will you do me the honour
                       of reading that letter?" And then, with a slight bow, turned again into the plantation,
                       and was soon out of sight.
                         With no expectation of pleasure, but with the strongest curiosity, Elizabeth opened
                       the letter, and, to her still increasing wonder, perceived an envelope containing two
                       sheets of letter-paper, written quite through, in a very close hand. The envelope itself
                       was likewise full. Pursuing her way along the lane, she then began it. It was dated from
                       Rosings, at eight o'clock in the morning, and was as follows:—
                          "Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its
                       containing any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last
                       night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling
                       myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon
                       forgotten; and the effort which the formation and the perusal of this letter must
                       occasion, should have been spared, had not my character required it to be written and
                       read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention;
                       your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.
                          "Two offenses of a very different nature, and by no means of equal magnitude, you
                       last night laid to my charge. The first mentioned was, that, regardless of the sentiments
                       of either, I had detached Mr. Bingley from your sister, and the other, that I had, in

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                       defiance of various claims, in defiance of honour and humanity, ruined the immediate
                       prosperity and blasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham. Wilfully and wantonly to have
                       thrown off the companion of my youth, the acknowledged favourite of my father, a
                       young man who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who
                       had been brought up to expect its exertion, would be a depravity, to which the
                       separation of two young persons, whose affection could be the growth of only a few
                       weeks, could bear no comparison. But from the severity of that blame which was last
                       night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in the
                       future secured, when the following account of my actions and their motives has been
                       read. If, in the explanation of them, which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of
                       relating feelings which may be offensive to yours, I can only say that I am sorry. The
                       necessity must be obeyed, and further apology would be absurd.
                          "I had not been long in Hertfordshire, before I saw, in common with others, that
                       Bingley preferred your elder sister to any other young woman in the country. But it was
                       not till the evening of the dance at Netherfield that I had any apprehension of his
                       feeling a serious attachment. I had often seen him in love before. At that ball, while I
                       had the honour of dancing with you, I was first made acquainted, by Sir William
                       Lucas's accidental information, that Bingley's attentions to your sister had given rise to
                       a general expectation of their marriage. He spoke of it as a certain event, of which the
                       time alone could be undecided. From that moment I observed my friend's behaviour
                       attentively; and I could then perceive that his partiality for Miss Bennet was beyond
                       what I had ever witnessed in him. Your sister I also watched. Her look and manners
                       were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard,
                       and I remained convinced from the evening's scrutiny, that though she received his
                       attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment. If
                       you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in error. Your superior knowledge
                       of your sister must make the latter probable. If it be so, if I have been misled by such
                       error to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. But I shall not
                       scruple to assert, that the serenity of your sister's countenance and air was such as
                       might have given the most acute observer a conviction that, however amiable her
                       temper, her heart was not likely to be easily touched. That I was desirous of believing
                       her indifferent is certain—but I will venture to say that my investigation and decisions
                       are not usually influenced by my hopes or fears. I did not believe her to be indifferent
                       because I wished it; I believed it on impartial conviction, as truly as I wished it in
                       reason. My objections to the marriage were not merely those which I last night
                       acknowledged to have the utmost force of passion to put aside, in my own case; the
                       want of connection could not be so great an evil to my friend as to me. But there were
                       other causes of repugnance; causes which, though still existing, and existing to an equal
                       degree in both instances, I had myself endeavoured to forget, because they were not
                       immediately before me. These causes must be stated, though briefly. The situation of
                       your mother's family, though objectionable, was nothing in comparison to that total
                       want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed by herself, by your three
                       younger sisters, and occasionally even by your father. Pardon me. It pains me to offend
                       you. But amidst your concern for the defects of your nearest relations, and your
                       displeasure at this representation of them, let it give you consolation to consider that, to
                       have conducted yourselves so as to avoid any share of the like censure, is praise no less
                       generally bestowed on you and your elder sister, than it is honourable to the sense and
                       disposition of both. I will only say farther that from what passed that evening, my
                       opinion of all parties was confirmed, and every inducement heightened which could
                       have led me before, to preserve my friend from what I esteemed a most unhappy

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                       connection. He left Netherfield for London, on the day following, as you, I am certain,
                       remember, with the design of soon returning.
                          "The part which I acted is now to be explained. His sisters' uneasiness had been
                       equally excited with my own; our coincidence of feeling was soon discovered, and,
                       alike sensible that no time was to be lost in detaching their brother, we shortly resolved
                       on joining him directly in London. We accordingly went—and there I readily engaged
                       in the office of pointing out to my friend the certain evils of such a choice. I described,
                       and enforced them earnestly. But, however this remonstrance might have staggered or
                       delayed his determination, I do not suppose that it would ultimately have prevented the
                       marriage, had it not been seconded by the assurance that I hesitated not in giving, of
                       your sister's indifference. He had before believed her to return his affection with
                       sincere, if not with equal regard. But Bingley has great natural modesty, with a stronger
                       dependence on my judgement than on his own. To convince him, therefore, that he had
                       deceived himself, was no very difficult point. To persuade him against returning into
                       Hertfordshire, when that conviction had been given, was scarcely the work of a
                       moment. I cannot blame myself for having done thus much. There is but one part of my
                       conduct in the whole affair on which I do not reflect with satisfaction; it is that I
                       condescended to adopt the measures of art so far as to conceal from him your sister's
                       being in town. I knew it myself, as it was known to Miss Bingley; but her brother is
                       even yet ignorant of it. That they might have met without ill consequence is perhaps
                       probable; but his regard did not appear to me enough extinguished for him to see her
                       without some danger. Perhaps this concealment, this disguise was beneath me; it is
                       done, however, and it was done for the best. On this subject I have nothing more to say,
                       no other apology to offer. If I have wounded your sister's feelings, it was unknowingly
                       done and though the motives which governed me may to you very naturally appear
                       insufficient, I have not yet learnt to condemn them.
                          "With respect to that other, more weighty accusation, of having injured Mr.
                       Wickham, I can only refute it by laying before you the whole of his connection with my
                       family. Of what he has particularly accused me I am ignorant; but of the truth of what
                       I shall relate, I can summon more than one witness of undoubted veracity.
                          "Mr. Wickham is the son of a very respectable man, who had for many years the
                       management of all the Pemberley estates, and whose good conduct in the discharge of
                       his trust naturally inclined my father to be of service to him; and on George Wickham,
                       who was his godson, his kindness was therefore liberally bestowed. My father
                       supported him at school, and afterwards at Cambridge—most important assistance, as
                       his own father, always poor from the extravagance of his wife, would have been unable
                       to give him a gentleman's education. My father was not only fond of this young man's
                       society, whose manner were always engaging; he had also the highest opinion of him,
                       and hoping the church would be his profession, intended to provide for him in it. As for
                       myself, it is many, many years since I first began to think of him in a very different
                       manner. The vicious propensities—the want of principle, which he was careful to guard
                       from the knowledge of his best friend, could not escape the observation of a young man
                       of nearly the same age with himself, and who had opportunities of seeing him in
                       unguarded moments, which Mr. Darcy could not have. Here again I shall give you
                       pain—to what degree you only can tell. But whatever may be the sentiments which Mr.
                       Wickham has created, a suspicion of their nature shall not prevent me from unfolding
                       his real character—it adds even another motive.
                          "My excellent father died about five years ago; and his attachment to Mr. Wickham

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                       was to the last so steady, that in his will he particularly recommended it to me, to
                       promote his advancement in the best manner that his profession might allow—and if he
                       took orders, desired that a valuable family living might be his as soon as it became
                       vacant. There was also a legacy of one thousand pounds. His own father did not long
                       survive mine, and within half a year from these events, Mr. Wickham wrote to inform
                       me that, having finally resolved against taking orders, he hoped I should not think it
                       unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniary advantage, in lieu of
                       the preferment, by which he could not be benefited. He had some intention, he added,
                       of studying law, and I must be aware that the interest of one thousand pounds would be
                       a very insufficient support therein. I rather wished, than believed him to be sincere; but,
                       at any rate, was perfectly ready to accede to his proposal. I knew that Mr. Wickham
                       ought not to be a clergyman; the business was therefore soon settled—he resigned all
                       claim to assistance in the church, were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to
                       receive it, and accepted in return three thousand pounds. All connection between us
                       seemed now dissolved. I thought too ill of him to invite him to Pemberley, or admit his
                       society in town. In town I believe he chiefly lived, but his studying the law was a mere
                       pretence, and being now free from all restraint, his life was a life of idleness and
                       dissipation. For about three years I heard little of him; but on the decease of the
                       incumbent of the living which had been designed for him, he applied to me again by
                       letter for the presentation. His circumstances, he assured me, and I had no difficulty in
                       believing it, were exceedingly bad. He had found the law a most unprofitable study, and
                       was now absolutely resolved on being ordained, if I would present him to the living in
                       question—of which he trusted there could be little doubt, as he was well assured that I
                       had no other person to provide for, and I could not have forgotten my revered father's
                       intentions. You will hardly blame me for refusing to comply with this entreaty, or for
                       resisting every repetition to it. His resentment was in proportion to the distress of his
                       circumstances—and he was doubtless as violent in his abuse of me to others as in his
                       reproaches to myself. After this period every appearance of acquaintance was dropped.
                       How he lived I know not. But last summer he was again most painfully obtruded on my
                          "I must now mention a circumstance which I would wish to forget myself, and which
                       no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold to any human being.
                       Having said thus much, I feel no doubt of your secrecy. My sister, who is more than ten
                       years my junior, was left to the guardianship of my mother's nephew, Colonel
                       Fitzwilliam, and myself. About a year ago, she was taken from school, and an
                       establishment formed for her in London; and last summer she went with the lady who
                       presided over it, to Ramsgate; and thither also went Mr. Wickham, undoubtedly by
                       design; for there proved to have been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs.
                       Younge, in whose character we were most unhappily deceived; and by her connivance
                       and aid, he so far recommended himself to Georgiana, whose affectionate heart
                       retained a strong impression of his kindness to her as a child, that she was persuaded to
                       believe herself in love, and to consent to an elopement. She was then but fifteen, which
                       must be her excuse; and after stating her imprudence, I am happy to add, that I owed
                       the knowledge of it to herself. I joined them unexpectedly a day or two before the
                       intended elopement, and then Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and
                       offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father, acknowledged the whole
                       to me. You may imagine what I felt and how I acted. Regard for my sister's credit and
                       feelings prevented any public exposure; but I wrote to Mr. Wickham, who left the place
                       immediately, and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge. Mr. Wickham's
                       chief object was unquestionably my sister's fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds;

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                       but I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me was a strong
                       inducement. His revenge would have been complete indeed.
                         "This, madam, is a faithful narrative of every event in which we have been
                       concerned together; and if you do not absolutely reject it as false, you will, I hope,
                       acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham. I know not in what manner,
                       under what form of falsehood he had imposed on you; but his success is not perhaps to
                       be wondered at. Ignorant as you previously were of everything concerning either,
                       detection could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination.
                          "You may possibly wonder why all this was not told you last night; but I was not then
                       master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed. For the truth of
                       everything here related, I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel
                       Fitzwilliam, who, from our near relationship and constant intimacy, and, still more, as
                       one of the executors of my father's will, has been unavoidably acquainted with every
                       particular of these transactions. If your abhorrence of me should make my assertions
                       valueless, you cannot be prevented by the same cause from confiding in my cousin; and
                       that there may be the possibility of consulting him, I shall endeavour to find some
                       opportunity of putting this letter in your hands in the course of the morning. I will only
                       add, God bless you.

                                                     "FITZWILLIAM DARCY"

                                                          Chapter 36
                          If Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter, did not expect it to contain a
                       renewal of his offers, she had formed no expectation at all of its contents. But such as
                       they were, it may well be supposed how eagerly she went through them, and what a
                       contrariety of emotion they excited. Her feelings as she read were scarcely to be
                       defined. With amazement did she first understand that he believed any apology to be in
                       his power; and steadfastly was she persuaded, that he could have no explanation to
                       give, which a just sense of shame would not conceal. With a strong prejudice against
                       everything he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield.
                       She read with an eagerness which hardly left her power of comprehension, and from
                       impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, was incapable of attending
                       to the sense of the one before her eyes. His belief of her sister's insensibility she
                       instantly resolved to be false; and his account of the real, the worst objections to the
                       match, made her too angry to have any wish of doing him justice. He expressed no
                       regret for what he had done which satisfied her; his style was not penitent, but haughty.
                       It was all pride and insolence.
                          But when this subject was succeeded by his account of Mr. Wickham—when she
                       read with somewhat clearer attention a relation of events which, if true, must overthrow
                       every cherished opinion of his worth, and which bore so alarming an affinity to his own
                       history of himself—her feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of
                       definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her. She wished to
                       discredit it entirely, repeatedly exclaiming, "This must be false! This cannot be! This

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                       must be the grossest falsehood!"—and when she had gone through the whole letter,
                       though scarcely knowing anything of the last page or two, put it hastily away, protesting
                       that she would not regard it, that she would never look in it again.
                          In this perturbed state of mind, with thoughts that could rest on nothing, she walked
                       on; but it would not do; in half a minute the letter was unfolded again, and collecting
                       herself as well as she could, she again began the mortifying perusal of all that related to
                       Wickham, and commanded herself so far as to examine the meaning of every sentence.
                       The account of his connection with the Pemberley family was exactly what he had
                       related himself; and the kindness of the late Mr. Darcy, though she had not before
                       known its extent, agreed equally well with his own words. So far each recital confirmed
                       the other; but when she came to the will, the difference was great. What Wickham had
                       said of the living was fresh in her memory, and as she recalled his very words, it was
                       impossible not to feel that there was gross duplicity on one side or the other; and, for a
                       few moments, she flattered herself that her wishes did not err. But when she read and
                       re-read with the closest attention, the particulars immediately following of Wickham's
                       resigning all pretensions to the living, of his receiving in lieu so considerable a sum as
                       three thousand pounds, again was she forced to hesitate. She put down the letter,
                       weighed every circumstance with what she meant to be impartiality—deliberated on the
                       probability of each statement—but with little success. On both sides it was only
                       assertion. Again she read on; but every line proved more clearly that the affair, which
                       she had believed it impossible that any contrivance could so represent as to render Mr.
                       Darcy's conduct in it less than infamous, was capable of a turn which must make him
                       entirely blameless throughout the whole.
                          The extravagance and general profligacy which he scrupled not to lay at Mr.
                       Wickham's charge, exceedingly shocked her; the more so, as she could bring no proof
                       of its injustice. She had never heard of him before his entrance into the ——shire
                       Militia, in which he had engaged at the persuasion of the young man who, on meeting
                       him accidentally in town, had there renewed a slight acquaintance. Of his former way
                       of life nothing had been known in Hertfordshire but what he told himself. As to his real
                       character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring.
                       His countenance, voice, and manner had established him at once in the possession of
                       every virtue. She tried to recollect some instance of goodness, some distinguished trait
                       of integrity or benevolence, that might rescue him from the attacks of Mr. Darcy; or at
                       least, by the predominance of virtue, atone for those casual errors under which she
                       would endeavour to class what Mr. Darcy had described as the idleness and vice of
                       many years' continuance. But no such recollection befriended her. She could see him
                       instantly before her, in every charm of air and address; but she could remember no
                       more substantial good than the general approbation of the neighbourhood, and the
                       regard which his social powers had gained him in the mess. After pausing on this point a
                       considerable while, she once more continued to read. But, alas! the story which
                       followed, of his designs on Miss Darcy, received some confirmation from what had
                       passed between Colonel Fitzwilliam and herself only the morning before; and at last she
                       was referred for the truth of every particular to Colonel Fitzwilliam himself—from
                       whom she had previously received the information of his near concern in all his cousin's
                       affairs, and whose character she had no reason to question. At one time she had almost
                       resolved on applying to him, but the idea was checked by the awkwardness of the
                       application, and at length wholly banished by the conviction that Mr. Darcy would
                       never have hazarded such a proposal, if he had not been well assured of his cousin's

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                          She perfectly remembered everything that had passed in conversation between
                       Wickham and herself, in their first evening at Mr. Phillips's. Many of his expressions
                       were still fresh in her memory. She was now struck with the impropriety of such
                       communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before. She saw the
                       indelicacy of putting himself forward as he had done, and the inconsistency of his
                       professions with his conduct. She remembered that he had boasted of having no fear of
                       seeing Mr. Darcy—that Mr. Darcy might leave the country, but that he should stand his
                       ground; yet he had avoided the Netherfield ball the very next week. She remembered
                       also that, till the Netherfield family had quitted the country, he had told his story to no
                       one but herself; but that after their removal it had been everywhere discussed; that he
                       had then no reserves, no scruples in sinking Mr. Darcy's character, though he had
                       assured her that respect for the father would always prevent his exposing the son.
                          How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His
                       attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully
                       mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his
                       wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything. His behaviour to herself could now have
                       had no tolerable motive; he had either been deceived with regard to her fortune, or had
                       been gratifying his vanity by encouraging the preference which she believed she had
                       most incautiously shown. Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter;
                       and in farther justification of Mr. Darcy, she could not but allow Mr. Bingley, when
                       questioned by Jane, had long ago asserted his blamelessness in the affair; that proud
                       and repulsive as were his manners, she had never, in the whole course of their
                       acquaintance—an acquaintance which had latterly brought them much together, and
                       given her a sort of intimacy with his ways—seen anything that betrayed him to be
                       unprincipled or unjust—anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits; that
                       among his own connections he was esteemed and valued—that even Wickham had
                       allowed him merit as a brother, and that she had often heard him speak so
                       affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of some amiable feeling; that had his
                       actions been what Mr. Wickham represented them, so gross a violation of everything
                       right could hardly have been concealed from the world; and that friendship between a
                       person capable of it, and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley, was incomprehensible.
                          She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she
                       think without feeling she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd.
                          "How despicably I have acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my
                       discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the
                       generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust!
                       How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I
                       could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly.
                       Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the
                       very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and
                       driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew
                          From herself to Jane—from Jane to Bingley, her thoughts were in a line which soon
                       brought to her recollection that Mr. Darcy's explanation there had appeared very
                       insufficient, and she read it again. Widely different was the effect of a second perusal.
                       How could she deny that credit to his assertions in one instance, which she had been
                       obliged to give in the other? He declared himself to be totally unsuspicious of her
                       sister's attachment; and she could not help remembering what Charlotte's opinion had

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                       always been. Neither could she deny the justice of his description of Jane. She felt that
                       Jane's feelings, though fervent, were little displayed, and that there was a constant
                       complacency in her air and manner not often united with great sensibility.
                          When she came to that part of the letter in which her family were mentioned in terms
                       of such mortifying, yet merited reproach, her sense of shame was severe. The justice of
                       the charge struck her too forcibly for denial, and the circumstances to which he
                       particularly alluded as having passed at the Netherfield ball, and as confirming all his
                       first disapprobation, could not have made a stronger impression on his mind than on
                         The compliment to herself and her sister was not unfelt. It soothed, but it could not
                       console her for the contempt which had thus been self-attracted by the rest of her
                       family; and as she considered that Jane's disappointment had in fact been the work of
                       her nearest relations, and reflected how materially the credit of both must be hurt by
                       such impropriety of conduct, she felt depressed beyond anything she had ever known
                          After wandering along the lane for two hours, giving way to every variety of thought
                       —re-considering events, determining probabilities, and reconciling herself, as well as
                       she could, to a change so sudden and so important, fatigue, and a recollection of her
                       long absence, made her at length return home; and she entered the house with the wish
                       of appearing cheerful as usual, and the resolution of repressing such reflections as must
                       make her unfit for conversation.
                          She was immediately told that the two gentlemen from Rosings had each called
                       during her absence; Mr. Darcy, only for a few minutes, to take leave—but that Colonel
                       Fitzwilliam had been sitting with them at least an hour, hoping for her return, and
                       almost resolving to walk after her till she could be found. Elizabeth could but just affect
                       concern in missing him; she really rejoiced at it. Colonel Fitzwilliam was no longer an
                       object; she could think only of her letter.

                                                            Chapter 37
                          The two gentlemen left Rosings the next morning, and Mr. Collins having been in
                       waiting near the lodges, to make them his parting obeisance, was able to bring home the
                       pleasing intelligence, of their appearing in very good health, and in as tolerable spirits as
                       could be expected, after the melancholy scene so lately gone through at Rosings. To
                       Rosings he then hastened, to console Lady Catherine and her daughter; and on his
                       return brought back, with great satisfaction, a message from her ladyship, importing that
                       she felt herself so dull as to make her very desirous of having them all to dine with her.
                          Elizabeth could not see Lady Catherine without recollecting that, had she chosen it,
                       she might by this time have been presented to her as her future niece; nor could she
                       think, without a smile, of what her ladyship's indignation would have been. "What
                       would she have said? how would she have behaved?" were questions with which she
                       amused herself.

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                         Their first subject was the diminution of the Rosings party. "I assure you, I feel it
                       exceedingly," said Lady Catherine; "I believe no one feels the loss of friends so much
                       as I do. But I am particularly attached to these young men, and know them to be so
                       much attached to me! They were excessively sorry to go! But so they always are. The
                       dear Colonel rallied his spirits tolerably till just at last; but Darcy seemed to feel it most
                       acutely, more, I think, than last year. His attachment to Rosings certainly increases."
                         Mr. Collins had a compliment, and an allusion to throw in here, which were kindly
                       smiled on by the mother and daughter.
                         Lady Catherine observed, after dinner, that Miss Bennet seemed out of spirits, and
                       immediately accounting for it by herself, by supposing that she did not like to go home
                       again so soon, she added:
                           "But if that is the case, you must write to your mother and beg that you may stay a
                       little longer. Mrs. Collins will be very glad of your company, I am sure."
                           "I am much obliged to your ladyship for your kind invitation," replied Elizabeth, "but
                       it is not in my power to accept it. I must be in town next Saturday."
                         "Why, at that rate, you will have been here only six weeks. I expected you to stay
                       two months. I told Mrs. Collins so before you came. There can be no occasion for your
                       going so soon. Mrs. Bennet could certainly spare you for another fortnight."
                          "But my father cannot. He wrote last week to hurry my return."
                         "Oh! your father of course may spare you, if your mother can. Daughters are never
                       of so much consequence to a father. And if you will stay another month complete, it
                       will be in my power to take one of you as far as London, for I am going there early in
                       June, for a week; and as Dawson does not object to the barouche-box, there will be
                       very good room for one of you—and indeed, if the weather should happen to be cool, I
                       should not object to taking you both, as you are neither of you large."
                          "You are all kindness, madam; but I believe we must abide by our original plan."
                          Lady Catherine seemed resigned. "Mrs. Collins, you must send a servant with them.
                       You know I always speak my mind, and I cannot bear the idea of two young women
                       travelling post by themselves. It is highly improper. You must contrive to send
                       somebody. I have the greatest dislike in the world to that sort of thing. Young women
                       should always be properly guarded and attended, according to their situation in life.
                       When my niece Georgiana went to Ramsgate last summer, I made a point of her having
                       two men-servants go with her. Miss Darcy, the daughter of Mr. Darcy, of Pemberley,
                       and Lady Anne, could not have appeared with propriety in a different manner. I am
                       excessively attentive to all those things. You must send John with the young ladies,
                       Mrs. Collins. I am glad it occurred to me to mention it; for it would really be
                       discreditable to you to let them go alone."
                          "My uncle is to send a servant for us."
                         "Oh! Your uncle! He keeps a man-servant, does he? I am very glad you have
                       somebody who thinks of these things. Where shall you change horses? Oh! Bromley, of
                       course. If you mention my name at the Bell, you will be attended to."
                          Lady Catherine had many other questions to ask respecting their journey, and as she
                       did not answer them all herself, attention was necessary, which Elizabeth believed to be

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                       lucky for her; or, with a mind so occupied, she might have forgotten where she was.
                       Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours; whenever she was alone, she gave way
                       to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk, in which she
                       might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections.
                          Mr. Darcy's letter she was in a fair way of soon knowing by heart. She studied every
                       sentence; and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different. When she
                       remembered the style of his address, she was still full of indignation; but when she
                       considered how unjustly she had condemned and upbraided him, her anger was turned
                       against herself; and his disappointed feelings became the object of compassion. His
                       attachment excited gratitude, his general character respect; but she could not approve
                       him; nor could she for a moment repent her refusal, or feel the slightest inclination ever
                       to see him again. In her own past behaviour, there was a constant source of vexation
                       and regret; and in the unhappy defects of her family, a subject of yet heavier chagrin.
                       They were hopeless of remedy. Her father, contented with laughing at them, would
                       never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters; and her
                       mother, with manners so far from right herself, was entirely insensible of the evil.
                       Elizabeth had frequently united with Jane in an endeavour to check the imprudence of
                       Catherine and Lydia; but while they were supported by their mother's indulgence, what
                       chance could there be of improvement? Catherine, weak-spirited, irritable, and
                       completely under Lydia's guidance, had been always affronted by their advice; and
                       Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely give them a hearing. They were
                       ignorant, idle, and vain. While there was an officer in Meryton, they would flirt with
                       him; and while Meryton was within a walk of Longbourn, they would be going there
                          Anxiety on Jane's behalf was another prevailing concern; and Mr. Darcy's
                       explanation, by restoring Bingley to all her former good opinion, heightened the sense
                       of what Jane had lost. His affection was proved to have been sincere, and his conduct
                       cleared of all blame, unless any could attach to the implicitness of his confidence in his
                       friend. How grievous then was the thought that, of a situation so desirable in every
                       respect, so replete with advantage, so promising for happiness, Jane had been deprived,
                       by the folly and indecorum of her own family!
                         When to these recollections was added the development of Wickham's character, it
                       may be easily believed that the happy spirits which had seldom been depressed before,
                       were now so much affected as to make it almost impossible for her to appear tolerably
                          Their engagements at Rosings were as frequent during the last week of her stay as
                       they had been at first. The very last evening was spent there; and her ladyship again
                       inquired minutely into the particulars of their journey, gave them directions as to the
                       best method of packing, and was so urgent on the necessity of placing gowns in the only
                       right way, that Maria thought herself obliged, on her return, to undo all the work of the
                       morning, and pack her trunk afresh.
                          When they parted, Lady Catherine, with great condescension, wished them a good
                       journey, and invited them to come to Hunsford again next year; and Miss de Bourgh
                       exerted herself so far as to curtsey and hold out her hand to both.

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                                                           Chapter 38
                         On Saturday morning Elizabeth and Mr. Collins met for breakfast a few minutes
                       before the others appeared; and he took the opportunity of paying the parting civilities
                       which he deemed indispensably necessary.
                          "I know not, Miss Elizabeth," said he, "whether Mrs. Collins has yet expressed her
                       sense of your kindness in coming to us; but I am very certain you will not leave the
                       house without receiving her thanks for it. The favor of your company has been much
                       felt, I assure you. We know how little there is to tempt anyone to our humble abode.
                       Our plain manner of living, our small rooms and few domestics, and the little we see of
                       the world, must make Hunsford extremely dull to a young lady like yourself; but I hope
                       you will believe us grateful for the condescension, and that we have done everything in
                       our power to prevent your spending your time unpleasantly."
                          Elizabeth was eager with her thanks and assurances of happiness. She had spent six
                       weeks with great enjoyment; and the pleasure of being with Charlotte, and the kind
                       attentions she had received, must make her feel the obliged. Mr. Collins was gratified,
                       and with a more smiling solemnity replied:
                          "It gives me great pleasure to hear that you have passed your time not disagreeably.
                       We have certainly done our best; and most fortunately having it in our power to
                       introduce you to very superior society, and, from our connection with Rosings, the
                       frequent means of varying the humble home scene, I think we may flatter ourselves that
                       your Hunsford visit cannot have been entirely irksome. Our situation with regard to
                       Lady Catherine's family is indeed the sort of extraordinary advantage and blessing
                       which few can boast. You see on what a footing we are. You see how continually we
                       are engaged there. In truth I must acknowledge that, with all the disadvantages of this
                       humble parsonage, I should not think anyone abiding in it an object of compassion,
                       while they are sharers of our intimacy at Rosings."
                         Words were insufficient for the elevation of his feelings; and he was obliged to walk
                       about the room, while Elizabeth tried to unite civility and truth in a few short sentences.
                          "You may, in fact, carry a very favourable report of us into Hertfordshire, my dear
                       cousin. I flatter myself at least that you will be able to do so. Lady Catherine's great
                       attentions to Mrs. Collins you have been a daily witness of; and altogether I trust it does
                       not appear that your friend has drawn an unfortunate—but on this point it will be as
                       well to be silent. Only let me assure you, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that I can from my
                       heart most cordially wish you equal felicity in marriage. My dear Charlotte and I have
                       but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in everything a most remarkable
                       resemblance of character and ideas between us. We seem to have been designed for
                       each other."
                          Elizabeth could safely say that it was a great happiness where that was the case, and
                       with equal sincerity could add, that she firmly believed and rejoiced in his domestic
                       comforts. She was not sorry, however, to have the recital of them interrupted by the
                       lady from whom they sprang. Poor Charlotte! it was melancholy to leave her to such
                       society! But she had chosen it with her eyes open; and though evidently regretting that
                       her visitors were to go, she did not seem to ask for compassion. Her home and her
                       housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and all their dependent concerns, had not yet
                       lost their charms.

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                          At length the chaise arrived, the trunks were fastened on, the parcels placed within,
                       and it was pronounced to be ready. After an affectionate parting between the friends,
                       Elizabeth was attended to the carriage by Mr. Collins, and as they walked down the
                       garden he was commissioning her with his best respects to all her family, not forgetting
                       his thanks for the kindness he had received at Longbourn in the winter, and his
                       compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, though unknown. He then handed her in, Maria
                       followed, and the door was on the point of being closed, when he suddenly reminded
                       them, with some consternation, that they had hitherto forgotten to leave any message
                       for the ladies at Rosings.
                         "But," he added, "you will of course wish to have your humble respects delivered to
                       them, with your grateful thanks for their kindness to you while you have been here."
                         Elizabeth made no objection; the door was then allowed to be shut, and the carriage
                       drove off.
                          "Good gracious!" cried Maria, after a few minutes' silence, "it seems but a day or two
                       since we first came! and yet how many things have happened!"
                          "A great many indeed," said her companion with a sigh.
                         "We have dined nine times at Rosings, besides drinking tea there twice! How much I
                       shall have to tell!"
                          Elizabeth added privately, "And how much I shall have to conceal!"
                         Their journey was performed without much conversation, or any alarm; and within
                       four hours of their leaving Hunsford they reached Mr. Gardiner's house, where they
                       were to remain a few days.
                         Jane looked well, and Elizabeth had little opportunity of studying her spirits, amidst
                       the various engagements which the kindness of her aunt had reserved for them. But
                       Jane was to go home with her, and at Longbourn there would be leisure enough for
                          It was not without an effort, meanwhile, that she could wait even for Longbourn,
                       before she told her sister of Mr. Darcy's proposals. To know that she had the power of
                       revealing what would so exceedingly astonish Jane, and must, at the same time, so
                       highly gratify whatever of her own vanity she had not yet been able to reason away,
                       was such a temptation to openness as nothing could have conquered but the state of
                       indecision in which she remained as to the extent of what she should communicate; and
                       her fear, if she once entered on the subject, of being hurried into repeating something of
                       Bingley which might only grieve her sister further.

                                                          Chapter 39
                         It was the second week in May, in which the three young ladies set out together from
                       Gracechurch Street for the town of ——, in Hertfordshire; and, as they drew near the
                       appointed inn where Mr. Bennet's carriage was to meet them, they quickly perceived, in

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                       token of the coachman's punctuality, both Kitty and Lydia looking out of a dining-room
                       upstairs. These two girls had been above an hour in the place, happily employed in
                       visiting an opposite milliner, watching the sentinel on guard, and dressing a salad and
                         After welcoming their sisters, they triumphantly displayed a table set out with such
                       cold meat as an inn larder usually affords, exclaiming, "Is not this nice? Is not this an
                       agreeable surprise?"
                         "And we mean to treat you all," added Lydia, "but you must lend us the money, for
                       we have just spent ours at the shop out there." Then, showing her purchases—"Look
                       here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as
                       well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it
                       up any better."
                         And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, "Oh! but
                       there were two or three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-
                       coloured satin to trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable. Besides, it will not
                       much signify what one wears this summer, after the ——shire have left Meryton, and
                       they are going in a fortnight."
                          "Are they indeed!" cried Elizabeth, with the greatest satisfaction.
                         "They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all
                       there for the summer! It would be such a delicious scheme; and I dare say would hardly
                       cost anything at all. Mamma would like to go too of all things! Only think what a
                       miserable summer else we shall have!"
                         "Yes," thought Elizabeth, "that would be a delightful scheme indeed, and completely
                       do for us at once. Good Heaven! Brighton, and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who
                       have been overset already by one poor regiment of militia, and the monthly balls of
                          "Now I have got some news for you," said Lydia, as they sat down at table. "What
                       do you think? It is excellent news—capital news—and about a certain person we all
                         Jane and Elizabeth looked at each other, and the waiter was told he need not stay.
                       Lydia laughed, and said:
                         "Aye, that is just like your formality and discretion. You thought the waiter must not
                       hear, as if he cared! I dare say he often hears worse things said than I am going to say.
                       But he is an ugly fellow! I am glad he is gone. I never saw such a long chin in my life.
                       Well, but now for my news; it is about dear Wickham; too good for the waiter, is it not?
                       There is no danger of Wickham's marrying Mary King. There's for you! She is gone
                       down to her uncle at Liverpool: gone to stay. Wickham is safe."
                          "And Mary King is safe!" added Elizabeth; "safe from a connection imprudent as to
                          "She is a great fool for going away, if she liked him."
                          "But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side," said Jane.
                         "I am sure there is not on his. I will answer for it, he never cared three straws about
                       her—who could about such a nasty little freckled thing?"

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                         Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of
                       expression herself, the coarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast
                       had harboured and fancied liberal!
                         As soon as all had ate, and the elder ones paid, the carriage was ordered; and after
                       some contrivance, the whole party, with all their boxes, work-bags, and parcels, and the
                       unwelcome addition of Kitty's and Lydia's purchases, were seated in it.
                          "How nicely we are all crammed in," cried Lydia. "I am glad I bought my bonnet, if it
                       is only for the fun of having another bandbox! Well, now let us be quite comfortable
                       and snug, and talk and laugh all the way home. And in the first place, let us hear what
                       has happened to you all since you went away. Have you seen any pleasant men? Have
                       you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband
                       before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon, I declare. She is almost
                       three-and-twenty! Lord, how ashamed I should be of not being married before three-
                       and-twenty! My aunt Phillips wants you so to get husbands, you can't think. She says
                       Lizzy had better have taken Mr. Collins; but I do not think there would have been any
                       fun in it. Lord! how I should like to be married before any of you; and then I would
                       chaperon you about to all the balls. Dear me! we had such a good piece of fun the other
                       day at Colonel Forster's. Kitty and me were to spend the day there, and Mrs. Forster
                       promised to have a little dance in the evening; (by the bye, Mrs. Forster and me are
                       such friends!) and so she asked the two Harringtons to come, but Harriet was ill, and so
                       Pen was forced to come by herself; and then, what do you think we did? We dressed up
                       Chamberlayne in woman's clothes on purpose to pass for a lady, only think what fun!
                       Not a soul knew of it, but Colonel and Mrs. Forster, and Kitty and me, except my aunt,
                       for we were forced to borrow one of her gowns; and you cannot imagine how well he
                       looked! When Denny, and Wickham, and Pratt, and two or three more of the men came
                       in, they did not know him in the least. Lord! how I laughed! and so did Mrs. Forster. I
                       thought I should have died. And that made the men suspect something, and then they
                       soon found out what was the matter."
                          With such kinds of histories of their parties and good jokes, did Lydia, assisted by
                       Kitty's hints and additions, endeavour to amuse her companions all the way to
                       Longbourn. Elizabeth listened as little as she could, but there was no escaping the
                       frequent mention of Wickham's name.
                          Their reception at home was most kind. Mrs. Bennet rejoiced to see Jane in
                       undiminished beauty; and more than once during dinner did Mr. Bennet say voluntarily
                       to Elizabeth:
                          "I am glad you are come back, Lizzy."
                          Their party in the dining-room was large, for almost all the Lucases came to meet
                       Maria and hear the news; and various were the subjects that occupied them: Lady
                       Lucas was inquiring of Maria, after the welfare and poultry of her eldest daughter; Mrs.
                       Bennet was doubly engaged, on one hand collecting an account of the present fashions
                       from Jane, who sat some way below her, and, on the other, retailing them all to the
                       younger Lucases; and Lydia, in a voice rather louder than any other person's, was
                       enumerating the various pleasures of the morning to anybody who would hear her.
                         "Oh! Mary," said she, "I wish you had gone with us, for we had such fun! As we
                       went along, Kitty and I drew up the blinds, and pretended there was nobody in the
                       coach; and I should have gone so all the way, if Kitty had not been sick; and when we

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                       got to the George, I do think we behaved very handsomely, for we treated the other
                       three with the nicest cold luncheon in the world, and if you would have gone, we would
                       have treated you too. And then when we came away it was such fun! I thought we
                       never should have got into the coach. I was ready to die of laughter. And then we were
                       so merry all the way home! we talked and laughed so loud, that anybody might have
                       heard us ten miles off!"
                         To this Mary very gravely replied, "Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate
                       such pleasures! They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds.
                       But I confess they would have no charms for me—I should infinitely prefer a book."
                         But of this answer Lydia heard not a word. She seldom listened to anybody for more
                       than half a minute, and never attended to Mary at all.
                          In the afternoon Lydia was urgent with the rest of the girls to walk to Meryton, and
                       to see how everybody went on; but Elizabeth steadily opposed the scheme. It should
                       not be said that the Miss Bennets could not be at home half a day before they were in
                       pursuit of the officers. There was another reason too for her opposition. She dreaded
                       seeing Mr. Wickham again, and was resolved to avoid it as long as possible. The
                       comfort to her of the regiment's approaching removal was indeed beyond expression. In
                       a fortnight they were to go—and once gone, she hoped there could be nothing more to
                       plague her on his account.
                          She had not been many hours at home before she found that the Brighton scheme, of
                       which Lydia had given them a hint at the inn, was under frequent discussion between
                       her parents. Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest intention of
                       yielding; but his answers were at the same time so vague and equivocal, that her
                       mother, though often disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.

                                                         Chapter 40
                         Elizabeth's impatience to acquaint Jane with what had happened could no longer be
                       overcome; and at length, resolving to suppress every particular in which her sister was
                       concerned, and preparing her to be surprised, she related to her the next morning the
                       chief of the scene between Mr. Darcy and herself.
                          Miss Bennet's astonishment was soon lessened by the strong sisterly partiality which
                       made any admiration of Elizabeth appear perfectly natural; and all surprise was shortly
                       lost in other feelings. She was sorry that Mr. Darcy should have delivered his
                       sentiments in a manner so little suited to recommend them; but still more was she
                       grieved for the unhappiness which her sister's refusal must have given him.
                         "His being so sure of succeeding was wrong," said she, "and certainly ought not to
                       have appeared; but consider how much it must increase his disappointment!"
                         "Indeed," replied Elizabeth, "I am heartily sorry for him; but he has other feelings,
                       which will probably soon drive away his regard for me. You do not blame me, however,
                       for refusing him?"

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                          "Blame you! Oh, no."
                          "But you blame me for having spoken so warmly of Wickham?"
                          "No—I do not know that you were wrong in saying what you did."
                          "But you will know it, when I tell you what happened the very next day."
                          She then spoke of the letter, repeating the whole of its contents as far as they
                       concerned George Wickham. What a stroke was this for poor Jane! who would
                       willingly have gone through the world without believing that so much wickedness
                       existed in the whole race of mankind, as was here collected in one individual. Nor was
                       Darcy's vindication, though grateful to her feelings, capable of consoling her for such
                       discovery. Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of error, and seek to
                       clear the one without involving the other.
                          "This will not do," said Elizabeth; "you never will be able to make both of them good
                       for anything. Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but
                       such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and
                       of late it has been shifting about pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all
                       Darcy's; but you shall do as you choose."
                          It was some time, however, before a smile could be extorted from Jane.
                          "I do not know when I have been more shocked," said she. "Wickham so very bad! It
                       is almost past belief. And poor Mr. Darcy! Dear Lizzy, only consider what he must
                       have suffered. Such a disappointment! and with the knowledge of your ill opinion, too!
                       and having to relate such a thing of his sister! It is really too distressing. I am sure you
                       must feel it so."
                         "Oh! no, my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing you so full of both. I
                       know you will do him such ample justice, that I am growing every moment more
                       unconcerned and indifferent. Your profusion makes me saving; and if you lament over
                       him much longer, my heart will be as light as a feather."
                         "Poor Wickham! there is such an expression of goodness in his countenance! such an
                       openness and gentleness in his manner!"
                         "There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young
                       men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it."
                          "I never thought Mr. Darcy so deficient in the appearance of it as you used to do."
                          "And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him,
                       without any reason. It is such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit, to have a
                       dislike of that kind. One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but
                       one cannot always be laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something
                         "Lizzy, when you first read that letter, I am sure you could not treat the matter as
                       you do now."
                         "Indeed, I could not. I was uncomfortable enough, I may say unhappy. And with no
                       one to speak to about what I felt, no Jane to comfort me and say that I had not been so
                       very weak and vain and nonsensical as I knew I had! Oh! how I wanted you!"

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                         "How unfortunate that you should have used such very strong expressions in
                       speaking of Wickham to Mr. Darcy, for now they do appear wholly undeserved."
                         "Certainly. But the misfortune of speaking with bitterness is a most natural
                       consequence of the prejudices I had been encouraging. There is one point on which I
                       want your advice. I want to be told whether I ought, or ought not, to make our
                       acquaintances in general understand Wickham's character."
                         Miss Bennet paused a little, and then replied, "Surely there can be no occasion for
                       exposing him so dreadfully. What is your opinion?"
                          "That it ought not to be attempted. Mr. Darcy has not authorised me to make his
                       communication public. On the contrary, every particular relative to his sister was meant
                       to be kept as much as possible to myself; and if I endeavour to undeceive people as to
                       the rest of his conduct, who will believe me? The general prejudice against Mr. Darcy is
                       so violent, that it would be the death of half the good people in Meryton to attempt to
                       place him in an amiable light. I am not equal to it. Wickham will soon be gone; and
                       therefore it will not signify to anyone here what he really is. Some time hence it will be
                       all found out, and then we may laugh at their stupidity in not knowing it before. At
                       present I will say nothing about it."
                         "You are quite right. To have his errors made public might ruin him for ever. He is
                       now, perhaps, sorry for what he has done, and anxious to re-establish a character. We
                       must not make him desperate."
                          The tumult of Elizabeth's mind was allayed by this conversation. She had got rid of
                       two of the secrets which had weighed on her for a fortnight, and was certain of a willing
                       listener in Jane, whenever she might wish to talk again of either. But there was still
                       something lurking behind, of which prudence forbade the disclosure. She dared not
                       relate the other half of Mr. Darcy's letter, nor explain to her sister how sincerely she
                       had been valued by her friend. Here was knowledge in which no one could partake; and
                       she was sensible that nothing less than a perfect understanding between the parties
                       could justify her in throwing off this last encumbrance of mystery. "And then," said she,
                       "if that very improbable event should ever take place, I shall merely be able to tell what
                       Bingley may tell in a much more agreeable manner himself. The liberty of
                       communication cannot be mine till it has lost all its value!"
                          She was now, on being settled at home, at leisure to observe the real state of her
                       sister's spirits. Jane was not happy. She still cherished a very tender affection for
                       Bingley. Having never even fancied herself in love before, her regard had all the
                       warmth of first attachment, and, from her age and disposition, greater steadiness than
                       most first attachments often boast; and so fervently did she value his remembrance, and
                       prefer him to every other man, that all her good sense, and all her attention to the
                       feelings of her friends, were requisite to check the indulgence of those regrets which
                       must have been injurious to her own health and their tranquillity.
                          "Well, Lizzy," said Mrs. Bennet one day, "what is your opinion now of this sad
                       business of Jane's? For my part, I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody.
                       I told my sister Phillips so the other day. But I cannot find out that Jane saw anything of
                       him in London. Well, he is a very undeserving young man—and I do not suppose
                       there's the least chance in the world of her ever getting him now. There is no talk of his
                       coming to Netherfield again in the summer; and I have inquired of everybody, too, who
                       is likely to know."

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                          "I do not believe he will ever live at Netherfield any more."
                         "Oh well! it is just as he chooses. Nobody wants him to come. Though I shall always
                       say he used my daughter extremely ill; and if I was her, I would not have put up with it.
                       Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart; and then he will be sorry
                       for what he has done."
                         But as Elizabeth could not receive comfort from any such expectation, she made no
                         "Well, Lizzy," continued her mother, soon afterwards, "and so the Collinses live very
                       comfortable, do they? Well, well, I only hope it will last. And what sort of table do they
                       keep? Charlotte is an excellent manager, I dare say. If she is half as sharp as her
                       mother, she is saving enough. There is nothing extravagant in their housekeeping, I dare
                          "No, nothing at all."
                          "A great deal of good management, depend upon it. Yes, yes. they will take care not
                       to outrun their income. They will never be distressed for money. Well, much good may
                       it do them! And so, I suppose, they often talk of having Longbourn when your father is
                       dead. They look upon it as quite their own, I dare say, whenever that happens."
                          "It was a subject which they could not mention before me."
                         "No; it would have been strange if they had; but I make no doubt they often talk of it
                       between themselves. Well, if they can be easy with an estate that is not lawfully their
                       own, so much the better. I should be ashamed of having one that was only entailed on

                                                           Chapter 41
                          The first week of their return was soon gone. The second began. It was the last of the
                       regiment's stay in Meryton, and all the young ladies in the neighbourhood were
                       drooping apace. The dejection was almost universal. The elder Miss Bennets alone were
                       still able to eat, drink, and sleep, and pursue the usual course of their employments.
                       Very frequently were they reproached for this insensibility by Kitty and Lydia, whose
                       own misery was extreme, and who could not comprehend such hard-heartedness in any
                       of the family.
                         "Good Heaven! what is to become of us? What are we to do?" would they often
                       exclaim in the bitterness of woe. "How can you be smiling so, Lizzy?"
                         Their affectionate mother shared all their grief; she remembered what she had herself
                       endured on a similar occasion, five-and-twenty years ago.
                         "I am sure," said she, "I cried for two days together when Colonel Miller's regiment
                       went away. I thought I should have broken my heart."
                          "I am sure I shall break mine," said Lydia.

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                          "If one could but go to Brighton!" observed Mrs. Bennet.
                          "Oh, yes!—if one could but go to Brighton! But papa is so disagreeable."
                          "A little sea-bathing would set me up forever."
                          "And my aunt Phillips is sure it would do me a great deal of good," added Kitty.
                         Such were the kind of lamentations resounding perpetually through Longbourn
                       House. Elizabeth tried to be diverted by them; but all sense of pleasure was lost in
                       shame. She felt anew the justice of Mr. Darcy's objections; and never had she been so
                       much disposed to pardon his interference in the views of his friend.
                          But the gloom of Lydia's prospect was shortly cleared away; for she received an
                       invitation from Mrs. Forster, the wife of the colonel of the regiment, to accompany her
                       to Brighton. This invaluable friend was a very young woman, and very lately married. A
                       resemblance in good humour and good spirits had recommended her and Lydia to each
                       other, and out of their three months' acquaintance they had been intimate two.
                          The rapture of Lydia on this occasion, her adoration of Mrs. Forster, the delight of
                       Mrs. Bennet, and the mortification of Kitty, are scarcely to be described. Wholly
                       inattentive to her sister's feelings, Lydia flew about the house in restless ecstasy, calling
                       for everyone's congratulations, and laughing and talking with more violence than ever;
                       whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repined at her fate in terms as
                       unreasonable as her accent was peevish.
                         "I cannot see why Mrs. Forster should not ask me as well as Lydia," said she,
                       "Though I am not her particular friend. I have just as much right to be asked as she has,
                       and more too, for I am two years older."
                          In vain did Elizabeth attempt to make her reasonable, and Jane to make her resigned.
                       As for Elizabeth herself, this invitation was so far from exciting in her the same feelings
                       as in her mother and Lydia, that she considered it as the death warrant of all possibility
                       of common sense for the latter; and detestable as such a step must make her were it
                       known, she could not help secretly advising her father not to let her go. She represented
                       to him all the improprieties of Lydia's general behaviour, the little advantage she could
                       derive from the friendship of such a woman as Mrs. Forster, and the probability of her
                       being yet more imprudent with such a companion at Brighton, where the temptations
                       must be greater than at home. He heard her attentively, and then said:
                         "Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other,
                       and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her
                       family as under the present circumstances."
                         "If you were aware," said Elizabeth, "of the very great disadvantage to us all which
                       must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner—nay,
                       which has already arisen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair."
                         "Already arisen?" repeated Mr. Bennet. "What, has she frightened away some of
                       your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as
                       cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth a regret. Come, let me
                       see the list of pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia's folly."
                          "Indeed you are mistaken. I have no such injuries to resent. It is not of particular, but
                       of general evils, which I am now complaining. Our importance, our respectability in the

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                       world must be affected by the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint
                       which mark Lydia's character. Excuse me, for I must speak plainly. If you, my dear
                       father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her
                       that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond
                       the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the
                       most determined flirt that ever made herself or her family ridiculous; a flirt, too, in the
                       worst and meanest degree of flirtation; without any attraction beyond youth and a
                       tolerable person; and, from the ignorance and emptiness of her mind, wholly unable to
                       ward off any portion of that universal contempt which her rage for admiration will
                       excite. In this danger Kitty also is comprehended. She will follow wherever Lydia leads.
                       Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled! Oh! my dear father, can you suppose
                       it possible that they will not be censured and despised wherever they are known, and
                       that their sisters will not be often involved in the disgrace?"
                         Mr. Bennet saw that her whole heart was in the subject, and affectionately taking her
                       hand said in reply:
                          "Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. Wherever you and Jane are known you
                       must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a
                       couple of—or I may say, three—very silly sisters. We shall have no peace at
                       Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go, then. Colonel Forster is a
                       sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to
                       be an object of prey to anybody. At Brighton she will be of less importance even as a
                       common flirt than she has been here. The officers will find women better worth their
                       notice. Let us hope, therefore, that her being there may teach her her own
                       insignificance. At any rate, she cannot grow many degrees worse, without authorising
                       us to lock her up for the rest of her life."
                          With this answer Elizabeth was forced to be content; but her own opinion continued
                       the same, and she left him disappointed and sorry. It was not in her nature, however, to
                       increase her vexations by dwelling on them. She was confident of having performed her
                       duty, and to fret over unavoidable evils, or augment them by anxiety, was no part of her
                          Had Lydia and her mother known the substance of her conference with her father,
                       their indignation would hardly have found expression in their united volubility. In
                       Lydia's imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness.
                       She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing-place covered
                       with officers. She saw herself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at
                       present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp—its tents stretched forth in
                       beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with
                       scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly
                       flirting with at least six officers at once.
                         Had she known her sister sought to tear her from such prospects and such realities as
                       these, what would have been her sensations? They could have been understood only by
                       her mother, who might have felt nearly the same. Lydia's going to Brighton was all that
                       consoled her for her melancholy conviction of her husband's never intending to go there
                         But they were entirely ignorant of what had passed; and their raptures continued,
                       with little intermission, to the very day of Lydia's leaving home.

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                          Elizabeth was now to see Mr. Wickham for the last time. Having been frequently in
                       company with him since her return, agitation was pretty well over; the agitations of
                       formal partiality entirely so. She had even learnt to detect, in the very gentleness which
                       had first delighted her, an affectation and a sameness to disgust and weary. In his
                       present behaviour to herself, moreover, she had a fresh source of displeasure, for the
                       inclination he soon testified of renewing those intentions which had marked the early
                       part of their acquaintance could only serve, after what had since passed, to provoke
                       her. She lost all concern for him in finding herself thus selected as the object of such
                       idle and frivolous gallantry; and while she steadily repressed it, could not but feel the
                       reproof contained in his believing, that however long, and for whatever cause, his
                       attentions had been withdrawn, her vanity would be gratified, and her preference
                       secured at any time by their renewal.
                          On the very last day of the regiment's remaining at Meryton, he dined, with other of
                       the officers, at Longbourn; and so little was Elizabeth disposed to part from him in good
                       humour, that on his making some inquiry as to the manner in which her time had passed
                       at Hunsford, she mentioned Colonel Fitzwilliam's and Mr. Darcy's having both spent
                       three weeks at Rosings, and asked him, if he was acquainted with the former.
                          He looked surprised, displeased, alarmed; but with a moment's recollection and a
                       returning smile, replied, that he had formerly seen him often; and, after observing that
                       he was a very gentlemanlike man, asked her how she had liked him. Her answer was
                       warmly in his favour. With an air of indifference he soon afterwards added:
                          "How long did you say he was at Rosings?"
                          "Nearly three weeks."
                          "And you saw him frequently?"
                          "Yes, almost every day."
                          "His manners are very different from his cousin's."
                          "Yes, very different. But I think Mr. Darcy improves upon acquaintance."
                          "Indeed!" cried Mr. Wickham with a look which did not escape her. "And pray, may
                       I ask?—" But checking himself, he added, in a gayer tone, "Is it in address that he
                       improves? Has he deigned to add aught of civility to his ordinary style?—for I dare not
                       hope," he continued in a lower and more serious tone, "that he is improved in
                          "Oh, no!" said Elizabeth. "In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was."
                         While she spoke, Wickham looked as if scarcely knowing whether to rejoice over her
                       words, or to distrust their meaning. There was a something in her countenance which
                       made him listen with an apprehensive and anxious attention, while she added:
                          "When I said that he improved on acquaintance, I did not mean that his mind or his
                       manners were in a state of improvement, but that, from knowing him better, his
                       disposition was better understood."
                         Wickham's alarm now appeared in a heightened complexion and agitated look; for a
                       few minutes he was silent, till, shaking off his embarrassment, he turned to her again,
                       and said in the gentlest of accents:

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Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen                                                                  file:///C:/ACTIVE/ADD3/1342-h.htm

                          "You, who so well know my feeling towards Mr. Darcy, will readily comprehend
                       how sincerely I must rejoice that he is wise enough to assume even the appearance of
                       what is right. His pride, in that direction, may be of service, if not to himself, to many
                       others, for it must only deter him from such foul misconduct as I have suffered by. I
                       only fear that the sort of cautiousness to which you, I imagine, have been alluding, is
                       merely adopted on his visits to his aunt, of whose good opinion and judgement he
                       stands much in awe. His fear of her has always operated, I know, when they were
                       together; and a good deal is to be imputed to his wish of forwarding the match with
                       Miss de Bourgh, which I am certain he has very much at heart."
                          Elizabeth could not repress a smile at this, but she answered only by a slight
                       inclination of the head. She saw that he wanted to engage her on the old subject of his
                       grievances, and she was in no humour to indulge him. The rest of the evening passed
                       with the appearance, on his side, of usual cheerfulness, but with no further attempt to
                       distinguish Elizabeth; and they parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly a mutual
                       desire of never meeting again.
                          When the party broke up, Lydia returned with Mrs. Forster to Meryton, from whence
                       they were to set out early the next morning. The separation between her and her family
                       was rather noisy than pathetic. Kitty was the only one who shed tears; but she did weep
                       from vexation and envy. Mrs. Bennet was diffuse in her good wishes for the felicity of
                       her daughter, and impressive in her injunctions that she should not miss the opportunity
                       of enjoying herself as much as possible—advice which there was every reason to
                       believe would be well attended to; and in the clamorous happiness of Lydia herself in
                       bidding farewell, the more gentle adieus of her sisters were uttered without being heard.

                                                          Chapter 42
                          Had Elizabeth's opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have
                       formed a very pleasing opinion of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort. Her father,
                       captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and
                       beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal
                       mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect,
                       esteem, and confidence had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness
                       were overthrown. But Mr. Bennet was not of a disposition to seek comfort for the
                       disappointment which his own imprudence had brought on, in any of those pleasures
                       which too often console the unfortunate for their folly or their vice. He was fond of the
                       country and of books; and from these tastes had arisen his principal enjoyments. To his
                       wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had
                       contributed to his amusement. This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in
                       general wish to owe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting,
                       the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given.
                          Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father's behaviour
                       as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful
                       for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not
                       overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation

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                       and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so
                       highly reprehensible. But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which
                       must attend the children of so unsuitable a marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the
                       evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might
                       at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of
                       enlarging the mind of his wife.
                          When Elizabeth had rejoiced over Wickham's departure she found little other cause
                       for satisfaction in the loss of the regiment. Their parties abroad were less varied than
                       before, and at home she had a mother and sister whose constant repinings at the
                       dullness of everything around them threw a real gloom over their domestic circle; and,
                       though Kitty might in time regain her natural degree of sense, since the disturbers of her
                       brain were removed, her other sister, from whose disposition greater evil might be
                       apprehended, was likely to be hardened in all her folly and assurance by a situation of
                       such double danger as a watering-place and a camp. Upon the whole, therefore, she
                       found, what has been sometimes found before, that an event to which she had been
                       looking with impatient desire did not, in taking place, bring all the satisfaction she had
                       promised herself. It was consequently necessary to name some other period for the
                       commencement of actual felicity—to have some other point on which her wishes and
                       hopes might be fixed, and by again enjoying the pleasure of anticipation, console
                       herself for the present, and prepare for another disappointment. Her tour to the Lakes
                       was now the object of her happiest thoughts; it was her best consolation for all the
                       uncomfortable hours which the discontentedness of her mother and Kitty made
                       inevitable; and could she have included Jane in the scheme, every part of it would have
                       been perfect.
                          "But it is fortunate," thought she, "that I have something to wish for. Were the whole
                       arrangement complete, my disappointment would be certain. But here, by carrying with
                       me one ceaseless source of regret in my sister's absence, I may reasonably hope to have
                       all my expectations of pleasure realised. A scheme of which every part promises delight
                       can never be successful; and general disappointment is only warded off by the defence
                       of some little peculiar vexation."
                          When Lydia went away she promised to write very often and very minutely to her
                       mother and Kitty; but her letters were always long expected, and always very short.
                       Those to her mother contained little else than that they were just returned from the
                       library, where such and such officers had attended them, and where she had seen such
                       beautiful ornaments as made her quite wild; that she had a new gown, or a new parasol,
                       which she would have described more fully, but was obliged to leave off in a violent
                       hurry, as Mrs. Forster called her, and they were going off to the camp; and from her
                       correspondence with her sister, there was still less to be learnt—for her letters to Kitty,
                       though rather longer, were much too full of lines under the words to be made public.
                          After the first fortnight or three weeks of her absence, health, good humour, and
                       cheerfulness began to reappear at Longbourn. Everything wore a happier aspect. The
                       families who had been in town for the winter came back again, and summer finery and
                       summer engagements arose. Mrs. Bennet was restored to her usual querulous serenity;
                       and, by the middle of June, Kitty was so much recovered as to be able to enter Meryton
                       without tears; an event of such happy promise as to make Elizabeth hope that by the
                       following Christmas she might be so tolerably reasonable as not to mention an officer
                       above once a day, unless, by some cruel and malicious arrangement at the War Office,
                       another regiment should be quartered in Meryton.

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                          The time fixed for the beginning of their northern tour was now fast approaching, and
                       a fortnight only was wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at
                       once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be
                       prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July, and must be in
                       London again within a month, and as that left too short a period for them to go so far,
                       and see so much as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort
                       they had built on, they were obliged to give up the Lakes, and substitute a more
                       contracted tour, and, according to the present plan, were to go no farther northwards
                       than Derbyshire. In that county there was enough to be seen to occupy the chief of
                       their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town
                       where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now to
                       spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her curiosity as all the celebrated
                       beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak.
                          Elizabeth was excessively disappointed; she had set her heart on seeing the Lakes,
                       and still thought there might have been time enough. But it was her business to be
                       satisfied—and certainly her temper to be happy; and all was soon right again.
                         With the mention of Derbyshire there were many ideas connected. It was impossible
                       for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner. "But surely," said
                       she, "I may enter his county without impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars
                       without his perceiving me."
                          The period of expectation was now doubled. Four weeks were to pass away before
                       her uncle and aunt's arrival. But they did pass away, and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with
                       their four children, did at length appear at Longbourn. The children, two girls of six and
                       eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be left under the particular care of their
                       cousin Jane, who was the general favourite, and whose steady sense and sweetness of
                       temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way—teaching them, playing
                       with them, and loving them.
                          The Gardiners stayed only one night at Longbourn, and set off the next morning with
                       Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and amusement. One enjoyment was certain—that of
                       suitableness of companions; a suitableness which comprehended health and temper to
                       bear inconveniences—cheerfulness to enhance every pleasure—and affection and
                       intelligence, which might supply it among themselves if there were disappointments
                          It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor of any of the
                       remarkable places through which their route thither lay; Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick,
                       Kenilworth, Birmingham, etc. are sufficiently known. A small part of Derbyshire is all
                       the present concern. To the little town of Lambton, the scene of Mrs. Gardiner's former
                       residence, and where she had lately learned some acquaintance still remained, they bent
                       their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and within five
                       miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found from her aunt that Pemberley was situated. It was
                       not in their direct road, nor more than a mile or two out of it. In talking over their route
                       the evening before, Mrs. Gardiner expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr.
                       Gardiner declared his willingness, and Elizabeth was applied to for her approbation.
                         "My love, should not you like to see a place of which you have heard so much?" said
                       her aunt; "a place, too, with which so many of your acquaintances are connected.
                       Wickham passed all his youth there, you know."

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                          Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at Pemberley, and was
                       obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing it. She must own that she was tired of
                       seeing great houses; after going over so many, she really had no pleasure in fine carpets
                       or satin curtains.
                          Mrs. Gardiner abused her stupidity. "If it were merely a fine house richly furnished,"
                       said she, "I should not care about it myself; but the grounds are delightful. They have
                       some of the finest woods in the country."
                         Elizabeth said no more—but her mind could not acquiesce. The possibility of
                       meeting Mr. Darcy, while viewing the place, instantly occurred. It would be dreadful!
                       She blushed at the very idea, and thought it would be better to speak openly to her aunt
                       than to run such a risk. But against this there were objections; and she finally resolved
                       that it could be the last resource, if her private inquiries to the absence of the family
                       were unfavourably answered.
                          Accordingly, when she retired at night, she asked the chambermaid whether
                       Pemberley were not a very fine place? what was the name of its proprietor? and, with
                       no little alarm, whether the family were down for the summer? A most welcome
                       negative followed the last question—and her alarms now being removed, she was at
                       leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself; and when the subject
                       was revived the next morning, and she was again applied to, could readily answer, and
                       with a proper air of indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme. To
                       Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.

                                                          Chapter 43
                          Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley
                       Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her
                       spirits were in a high flutter.
                         The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in
                       one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood stretching
                       over a wide extent.
                          Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every
                       remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half-a-mile, and then
                       found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and
                       the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a
                       valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome
                       stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody
                       hills; and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but
                       without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned.
                       Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or
                       where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were
                       all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of
                       Pemberley might be something!

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                          They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while
                       examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her apprehension of meeting its owner
                       returned. She dreaded lest the chambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see the
                       place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the
                       housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.
                          The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking elderly woman, much less fine, and
                       more civil, than she had any notion of finding her. They followed her into the dining-
                       parlour. It was a large, well proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after
                       slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with
                       wood, which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance,
                       was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the
                       whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks and the winding of the valley, as
                       far as she could trace it, with delight. As they passed into other rooms these objects
                       were taking different positions; but from every window there were beauties to be seen.
                       The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its
                       proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor
                       uselessly fine; with less of splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of
                         "And of this place," thought she, "I might have been mistress! With these rooms I
                       might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I
                       might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and
                       aunt. But no,"—recollecting herself—"that could never be; my uncle and aunt would
                       have been lost to me; I should not have been allowed to invite them."
                          This was a lucky recollection—it saved her from something very like regret.
                         She longed to inquire of the housekeeper whether her master was really absent, but
                       had not the courage for it. At length however, the question was asked by her uncle; and
                       she turned away with alarm, while Mrs. Reynolds replied that he was, adding, "But we
                       expect him to-morrow, with a large party of friends." How rejoiced was Elizabeth that
                       their own journey had not by any circumstance been delayed a day!
                         Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached and saw the likeness of
                       Mr. Wickham, suspended, amongst several other miniatures, over the mantelpiece. Her
                       aunt asked her, smilingly, how she liked it. The housekeeper came forward, and told
                       them it was a picture of a young gentleman, the son of her late master's steward, who
                       had been brought up by him at his own expense. "He is now gone into the army," she
                       added; "but I am afraid he has turned out very wild."
                          Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth could not return it.
                         "And that," said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, "is my
                       master—and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other—about eight
                       years ago."
                          "I have heard much of your master's fine person," said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the
                       picture; "it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not."
                         Mrs. Reynolds respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her
                       knowing her master.
                          "Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?"

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                          Elizabeth coloured, and said: "A little."
                          "And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma'am?"
                          "Yes, very handsome."
                          "I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery upstairs you will see a finer,
                       larger picture of him than this. This room was my late master's favourite room, and
                       these miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond of them."
                          This accounted to Elizabeth for Mr. Wickham's being among them.
                         Mrs. Reynolds then directed their attention to one of Miss Darcy, drawn when she
                       was only eight years old.
                          "And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?" said Mrs. Gardiner.
                          "Oh! yes—the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so
                       accomplished!—She plays and sings all day long. In the next room is a new instrument
                       just come down for her—a present from my master; she comes here to-morrow with
                          Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were very easy and pleasant, encouraged her
                       communicativeness by his questions and remarks; Mrs. Reynolds, either by pride or
                       attachment, had evidently great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister.
                          "Is your master much at Pemberley in the course of the year?"
                         "Not so much as I could wish, sir; but I dare say he may spend half his time here; and
                       Miss Darcy is always down for the summer months."
                          "Except," thought Elizabeth, "when she goes to Ramsgate."
                          "If your master would marry, you might see more of him."
                         "Yes, sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know who is good enough for
                          Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled. Elizabeth could not help saying, "It is very much to
                       his credit, I am sure, that you should think so."
                          "I say no more than the truth, and everybody will say that knows him," replied the
                       other. Elizabeth thought this was going pretty far; and she listened with increasing
                       astonishment as the housekeeper added, "I have never known a cross word from him in
                       my life, and I have known him ever since he was four years old."
                         This was praise, of all others most extraordinary, most opposite to her ideas. That he
                       was not a good-tempered man had been her firmest opinion. Her keenest attention was
                       awakened; she longed to hear more, and was grateful to her uncle for saying:
                         "There are very few people of whom so much can be said. You are lucky in having
                       such a master."
                         "Yes, sir, I know I am. If I were to go through the world, I could not meet with a
                       better. But I have always observed, that they who are good-natured when children, are
                       good-natured when they grow up; and he was always the sweetest-tempered, most
                       generous-hearted boy in the world."

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                          Elizabeth almost stared at her. "Can this be Mr. Darcy?" thought she.
                          "His father was an excellent man," said Mrs. Gardiner.
                         "Yes, ma'am, that he was indeed; and his son will be just like him—just as affable to
                       the poor."
                         Elizabeth listened, wondered, doubted, and was impatient for more. Mrs. Reynolds
                       could interest her on no other point. She related the subjects of the pictures, the
                       dimensions of the rooms, and the price of the furniture, in vain. Mr. Gardiner, highly
                       amused by the kind of family prejudice to which he attributed her excessive
                       commendation of her master, soon led again to the subject; and she dwelt with energy
                       on his many merits as they proceeded together up the great staircase.
                          "He is the best landlord, and the best master," said she, "that ever lived; not like the
                       wild young men nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his
                       tenants or servants but will give him a good name. Some people call him proud; but I
                       am sure I never saw anything of it. To my fancy, it is only because he does not rattle
                       away like other young men."
                          "In what an amiable light does this place him!" thought Elizabeth.
                         "This fine account of him," whispered her aunt as they walked, "is not quite
                       consistent with his behaviour to our poor friend."
                          "Perhaps we might be deceived."
                          "That is not very likely; our authority was too good."
                          On reaching the spacious lobby above they were shown into a very pretty
                       sitting-room, lately fitted up with greater elegance and lightness than the apartments
                       below; and were informed that it was but just done to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who
                       had taken a liking to the room when last at Pemberley.
                         "He is certainly a good brother," said Elizabeth, as she walked towards one of the
                          Mrs. Reynolds anticipated Miss Darcy's delight, when she should enter the room.
                       "And this is always the way with him," she added. "Whatever can give his sister any
                       pleasure is sure to be done in a moment. There is nothing he would not do for her."
                          The picture-gallery, and two or three of the principal bedrooms, were all that
                       remained to be shown. In the former were many good paintings; but Elizabeth knew
                       nothing of the art; and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly
                       turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy's, in crayons, whose subjects were
                       usually more interesting, and also more intelligible.
                          In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the
                       attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked in quest of the only face whose features would
                       be known to her. At last it arrested her—and she beheld a striking resemblance to Mr.
                       Darcy, with such a smile over the face as she remembered to have sometimes seen
                       when he looked at her. She stood several minutes before the picture, in earnest
                       contemplation, and returned to it again before they quitted the gallery. Mrs. Reynolds
                       informed them that it had been taken in his father's lifetime.
                          There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth's mind, a more gentle sensation

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                       towards the original than she had ever felt at the height of their acquaintance. The
                       commendation bestowed on him by Mrs. Reynolds was of no trifling nature. What
                       praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant? As a brother, a
                       landlord, a master, she considered how many people's happiness were in his
                       guardianship!—how much of pleasure or pain was it in his power to bestow!—how
                       much of good or evil must be done by him! Every idea that had been brought forward
                       by the housekeeper was favourable to his character, and as she stood before the canvas
                       on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard
                       with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before; she remembered its
                       warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression.
                          When all of the house that was open to general inspection had been seen, they
                       returned downstairs, and, taking leave of the housekeeper, were consigned over to the
                       gardener, who met them at the hall-door.
                         As they walked across the hall towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again;
                       her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of
                       the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led
                       behind it to the stables.
                          They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that
                       it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of both
                       were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment
                       seemed immovable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the
                       party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect
                          She had instinctively turned away; but stopping on his approach, received his
                       compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome. Had his first
                       appearance, or his resemblance to the picture they had just been examining, been
                       insufficient to assure the other two that they now saw Mr. Darcy, the gardener's
                       expression of surprise, on beholding his master, must immediately have told it. They
                       stood a little aloof while he was talking to their niece, who, astonished and confused,
                       scarcely dared lift her eyes to his face, and knew not what answer she returned to his
                       civil inquiries after her family. Amazed at the alteration of his manner since they last
                       parted, every sentence that he uttered was increasing her embarrassment; and every
                       idea of the impropriety of her being found there recurring to her mind, the few minutes
                       in which they continued were some of the most uncomfortable in her life. Nor did he
                       seem much more at ease; when he spoke, his accent had none of its usual sedateness;
                       and he repeated his inquiries as to the time of her having left Longbourn, and of her
                       having stayed in Derbyshire, so often, and in so hurried a way, as plainly spoke the
                       distraction of his thoughts.
                         At length every idea seemed to fail him; and, after standing a few moments without
                       saying a word, he suddenly recollected himself, and took leave.
                          The others then joined her, and expressed admiration of his figure; but Elizabeth
                       heard not a word, and wholly engrossed by her own feelings, followed them in silence.
                       She was overpowered by shame and vexation. Her coming there was the most
                       unfortunate, the most ill-judged thing in the world! How strange it must appear to him!
                       In what a disgraceful light might it not strike so vain a man! It might seem as if she had
                       purposely thrown herself in his way again! Oh! why did she come? Or, why did he thus
                       come a day before he was expected? Had they been only ten minutes sooner, they

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                       should have been beyond the reach of his discrimination; for it was plain that he was
                       that moment arrived—that moment alighted from his horse or his carriage. She blushed
                       again and again over the perverseness of the meeting. And his behaviour, so strikingly
                       altered—what could it mean? That he should even speak to her was amazing!—but to
                       speak with such civility, to inquire after her family! Never in her life had she seen his
                       manners so little dignified, never had he spoken with such gentleness as on this
                       unexpected meeting. What a contrast did it offer to his last address in Rosings Park,
                       when he put his letter into her hand! She knew not what to think, or how to account for
                          They had now entered a beautiful walk by the side of the water, and every step was
                       bringing forward a nobler fall of ground, or a finer reach of the woods to which they
                       were approaching; but it was some time before Elizabeth was sensible of any of it; and,
                       though she answered mechanically to the repeated appeals of her uncle and aunt, and
                       seemed to direct her eyes to such objects as they pointed out, she distinguished no part
                       of the scene. Her thoughts were all fixed on that one spot of Pemberley House,
                       whichever it might be, where Mr. Darcy then was. She longed to know what at the
                       moment was passing in his mind—in what manner he thought of her, and whether, in
                       defiance of everything, she was still dear to him. Perhaps he had been civil only
                       because he felt himself at ease; yet there had been that in his voice which was not like
                       ease. Whether he had felt more of pain or of pleasure in seeing her she could not tell,
                       but he certainly had not seen her with composure.
                         At length, however, the remarks of her companions on her absence of mind aroused
                       her, and she felt the necessity of appearing more like herself.
                          They entered the woods, and bidding adieu to the river for a while, ascended some of
                       the higher grounds; when, in spots where the opening of the trees gave the eye power to
                       wander, were many charming views of the valley, the opposite hills, with the long range
                       of woods overspreading many, and occasionally part of the stream. Mr. Gardiner
                       expressed a wish of going round the whole park, but feared it might be beyond a walk.
                       With a triumphant smile they were told that it was ten miles round. It settled the matter;
                       and they pursued the accustomed circuit; which brought them again, after some time, in
                       a descent among hanging woods, to the edge of the water, and one of its narrowest
                       parts. They crossed it by a simple bridge, in character with the general air of the scene;
                       it was a spot less adorned than any they had yet visited; and the valley, here contracted
                       into a glen, allowed room only for the stream, and a narrow walk amidst the rough
                       coppice-wood which bordered it. Elizabeth longed to explore its windings; but when
                       they had crossed the bridge, and perceived their distance from the house, Mrs.
                       Gardiner, who was not a great walker, could go no farther, and thought only of
                       returning to the carriage as quickly as possible. Her niece was, therefore, obliged to
                       submit, and they took their way towards the house on the opposite side of the river, in
                       the nearest direction; but their progress was slow, for Mr. Gardiner, though seldom able
                       to indulge the taste, was very fond of fishing, and was so much engaged in watching the
                       occasional appearance of some trout in the water, and talking to the man about them,
                       that he advanced but little. Whilst wandering on in this slow manner, they were again
                       surprised, and Elizabeth's astonishment was quite equal to what it had been at first, by
                       the sight of Mr. Darcy approaching them, and at no great distance. The walk here being
                       here less sheltered than on the other side, allowed them to see him before they met.
                       Elizabeth, however astonished, was at least more prepared for an interview than before,
                       and resolved to appear and to speak with calmness, if he really intended to meet them.
                       For a few moments, indeed, she felt that he would probably strike into some other path.

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                       The idea lasted while a turning in the walk concealed him from their view; the turning
                       past, he was immediately before them. With a glance, she saw that he had lost none of
                       his recent civility; and, to imitate his politeness, she began, as they met, to admire the
                       beauty of the place; but she had not got beyond the words "delightful," and "charming,"
                       when some unlucky recollections obtruded, and she fancied that praise of Pemberley
                       from her might be mischievously construed. Her colour changed, and she said no more.
                         Mrs. Gardiner was standing a little behind; and on her pausing, he asked her if she
                       would do him the honour of introducing him to her friends. This was a stroke of civility
                       for which she was quite unprepared; and she could hardly suppress a smile at his being
                       now seeking the acquaintance of some of those very people against whom his pride had
                       revolted in his offer to herself. "What will be his surprise," thought she, "when he
                       knows who they are? He takes them now for people of fashion."
                          The introduction, however, was immediately made; and as she named their
                       relationship to herself, she stole a sly look at him, to see how he bore it, and was not
                       without the expectation of his decamping as fast as he could from such disgraceful
                       companions. That he was surprised by the connection was evident; he sustained it,
                       however, with fortitude, and so far from going away, turned his back with them, and
                       entered into conversation with Mr. Gardiner. Elizabeth could not but be pleased, could
                       not but triumph. It was consoling that he should know she had some relations for whom
                       there was no need to blush. She listened most attentively to all that passed between
                       them, and gloried in every expression, every sentence of her uncle, which marked his
                       intelligence, his taste, or his good manners.
                         The conversation soon turned upon fishing; and she heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with
                       the greatest civility, to fish there as often as he chose while he continued in the
                       neighbourhood, offering at the same time to supply him with fishing tackle, and pointing
                       out those parts of the stream where there was usually most sport. Mrs. Gardiner, who
                       was walking arm-in-arm with Elizabeth, gave her a look expressive of wonder.
                       Elizabeth said nothing, but it gratified her exceedingly; the compliment must be all for
                       herself. Her astonishment, however, was extreme, and continually was she repeating,
                       "Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me—it cannot be for
                       my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work
                       such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me."
                          After walking some time in this way, the two ladies in front, the two gentlemen
                       behind, on resuming their places, after descending to the brink of the river for the better
                       inspection of some curious water-plant, there chanced to be a little alteration. It
                       originated in Mrs. Gardiner, who, fatigued by the exercise of the morning, found
                       Elizabeth's arm inadequate to her support, and consequently preferred her husband's.
                       Mr. Darcy took her place by her niece, and they walked on together. After a short
                       silence, the lady first spoke. She wished him to know that she had been assured of his
                       absence before she came to the place, and accordingly began by observing, that his
                       arrival had been very unexpected—"for your housekeeper," she added, "informed us
                       that you would certainly not be here till to-morrow; and indeed, before we left
                       Bakewell, we understood that you were not immediately expected in the country." He
                       acknowledged the truth of it all, and said that business with his steward had occasioned
                       his coming forward a few hours before the rest of the party with whom he had been
                       travelling. "They will join me early to-morrow," he continued, "and among them are
                       some who will claim an acquaintance with you—Mr. Bingley and his sisters."
                          Elizabeth answered only by a slight bow. Her thoughts were instantly driven back to

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                       the time when Mr. Bingley's name had been the last mentioned between them; and, if
                       she might judge by his complexion, his mind was not very differently engaged.
                          "There is also one other person in the party," he continued after a pause, "who more
                       particularly wishes to be known to you. Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to
                       introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay at Lambton?"
                          The surprise of such an application was great indeed; it was too great for her to know
                       in what manner she acceded to it. She immediately felt that whatever desire Miss Darcy
                       might have of being acquainted with her must be the work of her brother, and, without
                       looking farther, it was satisfactory; it was gratifying to know that his resentment had not
                       made him think really ill of her.
                          They now walked on in silence, each of them deep in thought. Elizabeth was not
                       comfortable; that was impossible; but she was flattered and pleased. His wish of
                       introducing his sister to her was a compliment of the highest kind. They soon
                       outstripped the others, and when they had reached the carriage, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner
                       were half a quarter of a mile behind.
                          He then asked her to walk into the house—but she declared herself not tired, and
                       they stood together on the lawn. At such a time much might have been said, and silence
                       was very awkward. She wanted to talk, but there seemed to be an embargo on every
                       subject. At last she recollected that she had been travelling, and they talked of Matlock
                       and Dove Dale with great perseverance. Yet time and her aunt moved slowly—and her
                       patience and her ideas were nearly worn our before the tete-a-tete was over. On Mr.
                       and Mrs. Gardiner's coming up they were all pressed to go into the house and take some
                       refreshment; but this was declined, and they parted on each side with utmost politeness.
                       Mr. Darcy handed the ladies into the carriage; and when it drove off, Elizabeth saw him
                       walking slowly towards the house.
                         The observations of her uncle and aunt now began; and each of them pronounced
                       him to be infinitely superior to anything they had expected. "He is perfectly well
                       behaved, polite, and unassuming," said her uncle.
                         "There is something a little stately in him, to be sure," replied her aunt, "but it is
                       confined to his air, and is not unbecoming. I can now say with the housekeeper, that
                       though some people may call him proud, I have seen nothing of it."
                         "I was never more surprised than by his behaviour to us. It was more than civil; it
                       was really attentive; and there was no necessity for such attention. His acquaintance
                       with Elizabeth was very trifling."
                          "To be sure, Lizzy," said her aunt, "he is not so handsome as Wickham; or, rather, he
                       has not Wickham's countenance, for his features are perfectly good. But how came you
                       to tell me that he was so disagreeable?"
                          Elizabeth excused herself as well as she could; said that she had liked him better
                       when they had met in Kent than before, and that she had never seen him so pleasant as
                       this morning.
                          "But perhaps he may be a little whimsical in his civilities," replied her uncle. "Your
                       great men often are; and therefore I shall not take him at his word, as he might change
                       his mind another day, and warn me off his grounds."
                          Elizabeth felt that they had entirely misunderstood his character, but said nothing.

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                          "From what we have seen of him," continued Mrs. Gardiner, "I really should not
                       have thought that he could have behaved in so cruel a way by anybody as he has done
                       by poor Wickham. He has not an ill-natured look. On the contrary, there is something
                       pleasing about his mouth when he speaks. And there is something of dignity in his
                       countenance that would not give one an unfavourable idea of his heart. But, to be sure,
                       the good lady who showed us his house did give him a most flaming character! I could
                       hardly help laughing aloud sometimes. But he is a liberal master, I suppose, and that in
                       the eye of a servant comprehends every virtue."
                          Elizabeth here felt herself called on to say something in vindication of his behaviour
                       to Wickham; and therefore gave them to understand, in as guarded a manner as she
                       could, that by what she had heard from his relations in Kent, his actions were capable
                       of a very different construction; and that his character was by no means so faulty, nor
                       Wickham's so amiable, as they had been considered in Hertfordshire. In confirmation of
                       this, she related the particulars of all the pecuniary transactions in which they had been
                       connected, without actually naming her authority, but stating it to be such as might be
                       relied on.
                          Mrs. Gardiner was surprised and concerned; but as they were now approaching the
                       scene of her former pleasures, every idea gave way to the charm of recollection; and
                       she was too much engaged in pointing out to her husband all the interesting spots in its
                       environs to think of anything else. Fatigued as she had been by the morning's walk they
                       had no sooner dined than she set off again in quest of her former acquaintance, and the
                       evening was spent in the satisfactions of a intercourse renewed after many years'
                          The occurrences of the day were too full of interest to leave Elizabeth much
                       attention for any of these new friends; and she could do nothing but think, and think
                       with wonder, of Mr. Darcy's civility, and, above all, of his wishing her to be acquainted
                       with his sister.

                                                           Chapter 44
                          Elizabeth had settled it that Mr. Darcy would bring his sister to visit her the very day
                       after her reaching Pemberley; and was consequently resolved not to be out of sight of
                       the inn the whole of that morning. But her conclusion was false; for on the very
                       morning after their arrival at Lambton, these visitors came. They had been walking
                       about the place with some of their new friends, and were just returning to the inn to
                       dress themselves for dining with the same family, when the sound of a carriage drew
                       them to a window, and they saw a gentleman and a lady in a curricle driving up the
                       street. Elizabeth immediately recognizing the livery, guessed what it meant, and
                       imparted no small degree of her surprise to her relations by acquainting them with the
                       honour which she expected. Her uncle and aunt were all amazement; and the
                       embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, and many
                       of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened to them a new idea on the business.
                       Nothing had ever suggested it before, but they felt that there was no other way of
                       accounting for such attentions from such a quarter than by supposing a partiality for

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                       their niece. While these newly-born notions were passing in their heads, the
                       perturbation of Elizabeth's feelings was at every moment increasing. She was quite
                       amazed at her own discomposure; but amongst other causes of disquiet, she dreaded
                       lest the partiality of the brother should have said too much in her favour; and, more
                       than commonly anxious to please, she naturally suspected that every power of pleasing
                       would fail her.
                          She retreated from the window, fearful of being seen; and as she walked up and
                       down the room, endeavouring to compose herself, saw such looks of inquiring surprise
                       in her uncle and aunt as made everything worse.
                         Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place.
                       With astonishment did Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much
                       embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was
                       exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her that she
                       was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond
                       a monosyllable.
                          Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than
                       sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less
                       handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good humour in her face, and her
                       manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in
                       her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much
                       relieved by discerning such different feelings.
                          They had not long been together before Mr. Darcy told her that Bingley was also
                       coming to wait on her; and she had barely time to express her satisfaction, and prepare
                       for such a visitor, when Bingley's quick step was heard on the stairs, and in a moment
                       he entered the room. All Elizabeth's anger against him had been long done away; but
                       had she still felt any, it could hardly have stood its ground against the unaffected
                       cordiality with which he expressed himself on seeing her again. He inquired in a
                       friendly, though general way, after her family, and looked and spoke with the same
                       good-humoured ease that he had ever done.
                          To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to
                       herself. They had long wished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited
                       a lively attention. The suspicions which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece
                       directed their observation towards each with an earnest though guarded inquiry; and
                       they soon drew from those inquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew
                       what it was to love. Of the lady's sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the
                       gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.
                         Elizabeth, on her side, had much to do. She wanted to ascertain the feelings of each
                       of her visitors; she wanted to compose her own, and to make herself agreeable to all;
                       and in the latter object, where she feared most to fail, she was most sure of success, for
                       those to whom she endeavoured to give pleasure were prepossessed in her favour.
                       Bingley was ready, Georgiana was eager, and Darcy determined, to be pleased.
                         In seeing Bingley, her thoughts naturally flew to her sister; and, oh! how ardently did
                       she long to know whether any of his were directed in a like manner. Sometimes she
                       could fancy that he talked less than on former occasions, and once or twice pleased
                       herself with the notion that, as he looked at her, he was trying to trace a resemblance.
                       But, though this might be imaginary, she could not be deceived as to his behaviour to

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                       Miss Darcy, who had been set up as a rival to Jane. No look appeared on either side
                       that spoke particular regard. Nothing occurred between them that could justify the
                       hopes of his sister. On this point she was soon satisfied; and two or three little
                       circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in her anxious interpretation, denoted a
                       recollection of Jane not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of saying more that might
                       lead to the mention of her, had he dared. He observed to her, at a moment when the
                       others were talking together, and in a tone which had something of real regret, that it
                       "was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her;" and, before she
                       could reply, he added, "It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th of
                       November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield."
                         Elizabeth was pleased to find his memory so exact; and he afterwards took occasion
                       to ask her, when unattended to by any of the rest, whether all her sisters were at
                       Longbourn. There was not much in the question, nor in the preceding remark; but there
                       was a look and a manner which gave them meaning.
                          It was not often that she could turn her eyes on Mr. Darcy himself; but, whenever
                       she did catch a glimpse, she saw an expression of general complaisance, and in all that
                       he said she heard an accent so removed from hauteur or disdain of his companions, as
                       convinced her that the improvement of manners which she had yesterday witnessed
                       however temporary its existence might prove, had at least outlived one day. When she
                       saw him thus seeking the acquaintance and courting the good opinion of people with
                       whom any intercourse a few months ago would have been a disgrace—when she saw
                       him thus civil, not only to herself, but to the very relations whom he had openly
                       disdained, and recollected their last lively scene in Hunsford Parsonage—the
                       difference, the change was so great, and struck so forcibly on her mind, that she could
                       hardly restrain her astonishment from being visible. Never, even in the company of his
                       dear friends at Netherfield, or his dignified relations at Rosings, had she seen him so
                       desirous to please, so free from self-consequence or unbending reserve, as now, when
                       no importance could result from the success of his endeavours, and when even the
                       acquaintance of those to whom his attentions were addressed would draw down the
                       ridicule and censure of the ladies both of Netherfield and Rosings.
                          Their visitors stayed with them above half-an-hour; and when they arose to depart,
                       Mr. Darcy called on his sister to join him in expressing their wish of seeing Mr. and
                       Mrs. Gardiner, and Miss Bennet, to dinner at Pemberley, before they left the country.
                       Miss Darcy, though with a diffidence which marked her little in the habit of giving
                       invitations, readily obeyed. Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece, desirous of knowing how
                       she, whom the invitation most concerned, felt disposed as to its acceptance, but
                       Elizabeth had turned away her head. Presuming however, that this studied avoidance
                       spoke rather a momentary embarrassment than any dislike of the proposal, and seeing
                       in her husband, who was fond of society, a perfect willingness to accept it, she ventured
                       to engage for her attendance, and the day after the next was fixed on.
                          Bingley expressed great pleasure in the certainty of seeing Elizabeth again, having
                       still a great deal to say to her, and many inquiries to make after all their Hertfordshire
                       friends. Elizabeth, construing all this into a wish of hearing her speak of her sister, was
                       pleased, and on this account, as well as some others, found herself, when their visitors
                       left them, capable of considering the last half-hour with some satisfaction, though while
                       it was passing, the enjoyment of it had been little. Eager to be alone, and fearful of
                       inquiries or hints from her uncle and aunt, she stayed with them only long enough to
                       hear their favourable opinion of Bingley, and then hurried away to dress.

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                          But she had no reason to fear Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner's curiosity; it was not their wish
                       to force her communication. It was evident that she was much better acquainted with
                       Mr. Darcy than they had before any idea of; it was evident that he was very much in
                       love with her. They saw much to interest, but nothing to justify inquiry.
                          Of Mr. Darcy it was now a matter of anxiety to think well; and, as far as their
                       acquaintance reached, there was no fault to find. They could not be untouched by his
                       politeness; and had they drawn his character from their own feelings and his servant's
                       report, without any reference to any other account, the circle in Hertfordshire to which
                       he was known would not have recognized it for Mr. Darcy. There was now an interest,
                       however, in believing the housekeeper; and they soon became sensible that the
                       authority of a servant who had known him since he was four years old, and whose own
                       manners indicated respectability, was not to be hastily rejected. Neither had anything
                       occurred in the intelligence of their Lambton friends that could materially lessen its
                       weight. They had nothing to accuse him of but pride; pride he probably had, and if not,
                       it would certainly be imputed by the inhabitants of a small market-town where the
                       family did not visit. It was acknowledged, however, that he was a liberal man, and did
                       much good among the poor.
                         With respect to Wickham, the travellers soon found that he was not held there in
                       much estimation; for though the chief of his concerns with the son of his patron were
                       imperfectly understood, it was yet a well-known fact that, on his quitting Derbyshire, he
                       had left many debts behind him, which Mr. Darcy afterwards discharged.
                          As for Elizabeth, her thoughts were at Pemberley this evening more than the last; and
                       the evening, though as it passed it seemed long, was not long enough to determine her
                       feelings towards one in that mansion; and she lay awake two whole hours endeavouring
                       to make them out. She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago,
                       and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him, that
                       could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities,
                       though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her
                       feeling; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature, by the
                       testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a
                       light, which yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there
                       was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude;
                       gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to
                       forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust
                       accusations accompanying her rejection. He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid
                       her as his greatest enemy, seemed, on this accidental meeting, most eager to preserve
                       the acquaintance, and without any indelicate display of regard, or any peculiarity of
                       manner, where their two selves only were concerned, was soliciting the good opinion of
                       her friends, and bent on making her known to his sister. Such a change in a man of so
                       much pride exciting not only astonishment but gratitude—for to love, ardent love, it
                       must be attributed; and as such its impression on her was of a sort to be encouraged, as
                       by no means unpleasing, though it could not be exactly defined. She respected, she
                       esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only
                       wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself, and how far it
                       would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which her fancy
                       told her she still possessed, of bringing on her the renewal of his addresses.
                          It had been settled in the evening between the aunt and the niece, that such a striking
                       civility as Miss Darcy's in coming to see them on the very day of her arrival at

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                       Pemberley, for she had reached it only to a late breakfast, ought to be imitated, though
                       it could not be equalled, by some exertion of politeness on their side; and,
                       consequently, that it would be highly expedient to wait on her at Pemberley the
                       following morning. They were, therefore, to go. Elizabeth was pleased; though when
                       she asked herself the reason, she had very little to say in reply.
                          Mr. Gardiner left them soon after breakfast. The fishing scheme had been renewed
                       the day before, and a positive engagement made of his meeting some of the gentlemen
                       at Pemberley before noon.

                                                          Chapter 45
                          Convinced as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley's dislike of her had originated in
                       jealousy, she could not help feeling how unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley must
                       be to her, and was curious to know with how much civility on that lady's side the
                       acquaintance would now be renewed.
                         On reaching the house, they were shown through the hall into the saloon, whose
                       northern aspect rendered it delightful for summer. Its windows opening to the ground,
                       admitted a most refreshing view of the high woody hills behind the house, and of the
                       beautiful oaks and Spanish chestnuts which were scattered over the intermediate lawn.
                         In this house they were received by Miss Darcy, who was sitting there with Mrs.
                       Hurst and Miss Bingley, and the lady with whom she lived in London. Georgiana's
                       reception of them was very civil, but attended with all the embarrassment which,
                       though proceeding from shyness and the fear of doing wrong, would easily give to those
                       who felt themselves inferior the belief of her being proud and reserved. Mrs. Gardiner
                       and her niece, however, did her justice, and pitied her.
                         By Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley they were noticed only by a curtsey; and, on their
                       being seated, a pause, awkward as such pauses must always be, succeeded for a few
                       moments. It was first broken by Mrs. Annesley, a genteel, agreeable-looking woman,
                       whose endeavour to introduce some kind of discourse proved her to be more truly
                       well-bred than either of the others; and between her and Mrs. Gardiner, with occasional
                       help from Elizabeth, the conversation was carried on. Miss Darcy looked as if she
                       wished for courage enough to join in it; and sometimes did venture a short sentence
                       when there was least danger of its being heard.
                          Elizabeth soon saw that she was herself closely watched by Miss Bingley, and that
                       she could not speak a word, especially to Miss Darcy, without calling her attention. This
                       observation would not have prevented her from trying to talk to the latter, had they not
                       been seated at an inconvenient distance; but she was not sorry to be spared the
                       necessity of saying much. Her own thoughts were employing her. She expected every
                       moment that some of the gentlemen would enter the room. She wished, she feared that
                       the master of the house might be amongst them; and whether she wished or feared it
                       most, she could scarcely determine. After sitting in this manner a quarter of an hour
                       without hearing Miss Bingley's voice, Elizabeth was roused by receiving from her a cold
                       inquiry after the health of her family. She answered with equal indifference and brevity,

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                       and the others said no more.
                          The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of
                       servants with cold meat, cake, and a variety of all the finest fruits in season; but this did
                       not take place till after many a significant look and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss
                       Darcy had been given, to remind her of her post. There was now employment for the
                       whole party—for though they could not all talk, they could all eat; and the beautiful
                       pyramids of grapes, nectarines, and peaches soon collected them round the table.
                          While thus engaged, Elizabeth had a fair opportunity of deciding whether she most
                       feared or wished for the appearance of Mr. Darcy, by the feelings which prevailed on
                       his entering the room; and then, though but a moment before she had believed her
                       wishes to predominate, she began to regret that he came.
                          He had been some time with Mr. Gardiner, who, with two or three other gentlemen
                       from the house, was engaged by the river, and had left him only on learning that the
                       ladies of the family intended a visit to Georgiana that morning. No sooner did he appear
                       than Elizabeth wisely resolved to be perfectly easy and unembarrassed; a resolution the
                       more necessary to be made, but perhaps not the more easily kept, because she saw that
                       the suspicions of the whole party were awakened against them, and that there was
                       scarcely an eye which did not watch his behaviour when he first came into the room. In
                       no countenance was attentive curiosity so strongly marked as in Miss Bingley's, in spite
                       of the smiles which overspread her face whenever she spoke to one of its objects; for
                       jealousy had not yet made her desperate, and her attentions to Mr. Darcy were by no
                       means over. Miss Darcy, on her brother's entrance, exerted herself much more to talk,
                       and Elizabeth saw that he was anxious for his sister and herself to get acquainted, and
                       forwarded as much as possible, every attempt at conversation on either side. Miss
                       Bingley saw all this likewise; and, in the imprudence of anger, took the first opportunity
                       of saying, with sneering civility:
                         "Pray, Miss Eliza, are not the ——shire Militia removed from Meryton? They must
                       be a great loss to your family."
                          In Darcy's presence she dared not mention Wickham's name; but Elizabeth instantly
                       comprehended that he was uppermost in her thoughts; and the various recollections
                       connected with him gave her a moment's distress; but exerting herself vigorously to
                       repel the ill-natured attack, she presently answered the question in a tolerably detached
                       tone. While she spoke, an involuntary glance showed her Darcy, with a heightened
                       complexion, earnestly looking at her, and his sister overcome with confusion, and
                       unable to lift up her eyes. Had Miss Bingley known what pain she was then giving her
                       beloved friend, she undoubtedly would have refrained from the hint; but she had
                       merely intended to discompose Elizabeth by bringing forward the idea of a man to
                       whom she believed her partial, to make her betray a sensibility which might injure her
                       in Darcy's opinion, and, perhaps, to remind the latter of all the follies and absurdities by
                       which some part of her family were connected with that corps. Not a syllable had ever
                       reached her of Miss Darcy's meditated elopement. To no creature had it been revealed,
                       where secrecy was possible, except to Elizabeth; and from all Bingley's connections her
                       brother was particularly anxious to conceal it, from the very wish which Elizabeth had
                       long ago attributed to him, of their becoming hereafter her own. He had certainly
                       formed such a plan, and without meaning that it should effect his endeavour to separate
                       him from Miss Bennet, it is probable that it might add something to his lively concern
                       for the welfare of his friend.

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                          Elizabeth's collected behaviour, however, soon quieted his emotion; and as Miss
                       Bingley, vexed and disappointed, dared not approach nearer to Wickham, Georgiana
                       also recovered in time, though not enough to be able to speak any more. Her brother,
                       whose eye she feared to meet, scarcely recollected her interest in the affair, and the
                       very circumstance which had been designed to turn his thoughts from Elizabeth seemed
                       to have fixed them on her more and more cheerfully.
                          Their visit did not continue long after the question and answer above mentioned; and
                       while Mr. Darcy was attending them to their carriage Miss Bingley was venting her
                       feelings in criticisms on Elizabeth's person, behaviour, and dress. But Georgiana would
                       not join her. Her brother's recommendation was enough to ensure her favour; his
                       judgement could not err. And he had spoken in such terms of Elizabeth as to leave
                       Georgiana without the power of finding her otherwise than lovely and amiable. When
                       Darcy returned to the saloon, Miss Bingley could not help repeating to him some part of
                       what she had been saying to his sister.
                          "How very ill Miss Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy," she cried; "I never
                       in my life saw anyone so much altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown
                       and coarse! Louisa and I were agreeing that we should not have known her again."
                         However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented himself
                       with coolly replying that he perceived no other alteration than her being rather tanned,
                       no miraculous consequence of travelling in the summer.
                          "For my own part," she rejoined, "I must confess that I never could see any beauty in
                       her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at
                       all handsome. Her nose wants character—there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth
                       are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have
                       sometimes been called so fine, I could never see anything extraordinary in them. They
                       have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether there is
                       a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable."
                          Persuaded as Miss Bingley was that Darcy admired Elizabeth, this was not the best
                       method of recommending herself; but angry people are not always wise; and in seeing
                       him at last look somewhat nettled, she had all the success she expected. He was
                       resolutely silent, however, and, from a determination of making him speak, she
                          "I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed we all were to
                       find that she was a reputed beauty; and I particularly recollect your saying one night,
                       after they had been dining at Netherfield, 'She a beauty!—I should as soon call her
                       mother a wit.' But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought
                       her rather pretty at one time."
                          "Yes," replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, "but that was only when
                       I first saw her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the
                       handsomest women of my acquaintance."
                         He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction of having forced
                       him to say what gave no one any pain but herself.
                          Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth talked of all that had occurred during their visit, as they
                       returned, except what had particularly interested them both. The look and behaviour of
                       everybody they had seen were discussed, except of the person who had mostly engaged

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                       their attention. They talked of his sister, his friends, his house, his fruit—of everything
                       but himself; yet Elizabeth was longing to know what Mrs. Gardiner thought of him, and
                       Mrs. Gardiner would have been highly gratified by her niece's beginning the subject.

                                                           Chapter 46
                          Elizabeth had been a good deal disappointed in not finding a letter from Jane on their
                       first arrival at Lambton; and this disappointment had been renewed on each of the
                       mornings that had now been spent there; but on the third her repining was over, and her
                       sister justified, by the receipt of two letters from her at once, on one of which was
                       marked that it had been missent elsewhere. Elizabeth was not surprised at it, as Jane
                       had written the direction remarkably ill.
                          They had just been preparing to walk as the letters came in; and her uncle and aunt,
                       leaving her to enjoy them in quiet, set off by themselves. The one missent must first be
                       attended to; it had been written five days ago. The beginning contained an account of
                       all their little parties and engagements, with such news as the country afforded; but the
                       latter half, which was dated a day later, and written in evident agitation, gave more
                       important intelligence. It was to this effect:
                          "Since writing the above, dearest Lizzy, something has occurred of a most
                       unexpected and serious nature; but I am afraid of alarming you—be assured that we are
                       all well. What I have to say relates to poor Lydia. An express came at twelve last night,
                       just as we were all gone to bed, from Colonel Forster, to inform us that she was gone
                       off to Scotland with one of his officers; to own the truth, with Wickham! Imagine our
                       surprise. To Kitty, however, it does not seem so wholly unexpected. I am very, very
                       sorry. So imprudent a match on both sides! But I am willing to hope the best, and that
                       his character has been misunderstood. Thoughtless and indiscreet I can easily believe
                       him, but this step (and let us rejoice over it) marks nothing bad at heart. His choice is
                       disinterested at least, for he must know my father can give her nothing. Our poor
                       mother is sadly grieved. My father bears it better. How thankful am I that we never let
                       them know what has been said against him; we must forget it ourselves. They were off
                       Saturday night about twelve, as is conjectured, but were not missed till yesterday
                       morning at eight. The express was sent off directly. My dear Lizzy, they must have
                       passed within ten miles of us. Colonel Forster gives us reason to expect him here soon.
                       Lydia left a few lines for his wife, informing her of their intention. I must conclude, for
                       I cannot be long from my poor mother. I am afraid you will not be able to make it out,
                       but I hardly know what I have written."
                          Without allowing herself time for consideration, and scarcely knowing what she felt,
                       Elizabeth on finishing this letter instantly seized the other, and opening it with the
                       utmost impatience, read as follows: it had been written a day later than the conclusion
                       of the first.
                          "By this time, my dearest sister, you have received my hurried letter; I wish this may
                       be more intelligible, but though not confined for time, my head is so bewildered that I
                       cannot answer for being coherent. Dearest Lizzy, I hardly know what I would write, but
                       I have bad news for you, and it cannot be delayed. Imprudent as the marriage between

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                       Mr. Wickham and our poor Lydia would be, we are now anxious to be assured it has
                       taken place, for there is but too much reason to fear they are not gone to Scotland.
                       Colonel Forster came yesterday, having left Brighton the day before, not many hours
                       after the express. Though Lydia's short letter to Mrs. F. gave them to understand that
                       they were going to Gretna Green, something was dropped by Denny expressing his
                       belief that W. never intended to go there, or to marry Lydia at all, which was repeated
                       to Colonel F., who, instantly taking the alarm, set off from B. intending to trace their
                       route. He did trace them easily to Clapham, but no further; for on entering that place,
                       they removed into a hackney coach, and dismissed the chaise that brought them from
                       Epsom. All that is known after this is, that they were seen to continue the London road.
                       I know not what to think. After making every possible inquiry on that side London,
                       Colonel F. came on into Hertfordshire, anxiously renewing them at all the turnpikes,
                       and at the inns in Barnet and Hatfield, but without any success—no such people had
                       been seen to pass through. With the kindest concern he came on to Longbourn, and
                       broke his apprehensions to us in a manner most creditable to his heart. I am sincerely
                       grieved for him and Mrs. F., but no one can throw any blame on them. Our distress, my
                       dear Lizzy, is very great. My father and mother believe the worst, but I cannot think so
                       ill of him. Many circumstances might make it more eligible for them to be married
                       privately in town than to pursue their first plan; and even if he could form such a design
                       against a young woman of Lydia's connections, which is not likely, can I suppose her so
                       lost to everything? Impossible! I grieve to find, however, that Colonel F. is not disposed
                       to depend upon their marriage; he shook his head when I expressed my hopes, and said
                       he feared W. was not a man to be trusted. My poor mother is really ill, and keeps her
                       room. Could she exert herself, it would be better; but this is not to be expected. And as
                       to my father, I never in my life saw him so affected. Poor Kitty has anger for having
                       concealed their attachment; but as it was a matter of confidence, one cannot wonder. I
                       am truly glad, dearest Lizzy, that you have been spared something of these distressing
                       scenes; but now, as the first shock is over, shall I own that I long for your return? I am
                       not so selfish, however, as to press for it, if inconvenient. Adieu! I take up my pen again
                       to do what I have just told you I would not; but circumstances are such that I cannot
                       help earnestly begging you all to come here as soon as possible. I know my dear uncle
                       and aunt so well, that I am not afraid of requesting it, though I have still something
                       more to ask of the former. My father is going to London with Colonel Forster instantly,
                       to try to discover her. What he means to do I am sure I know not; but his excessive
                       distress will not allow him to pursue any measure in the best and safest way, and
                       Colonel Forster is obliged to be at Brighton again to-morrow evening. In such an
                       exigence, my uncle's advice and assistance would be everything in the world; he will
                       immediately comprehend what I must feel, and I rely upon his goodness."
                          "Oh! where, where is my uncle?" cried Elizabeth, darting from her seat as she
                       finished the letter, in eagerness to follow him, without losing a moment of the time so
                       precious; but as she reached the door it was opened by a servant, and Mr. Darcy
                       appeared. Her pale face and impetuous manner made him start, and before he could
                       recover himself to speak, she, in whose mind every idea was superseded by Lydia's
                       situation, hastily exclaimed, "I beg your pardon, but I must leave you. I must find Mr.
                       Gardiner this moment, on business that cannot be delayed; I have not an instant to
                          "Good God! what is the matter?" cried he, with more feeling than politeness; then
                       recollecting himself, "I will not detain you a minute; but let me, or let the servant go
                       after Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. You are not well enough; you cannot go yourself."

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                          Elizabeth hesitated, but her knees trembled under her and she felt how little would be
                       gained by her attempting to pursue them. Calling back the servant, therefore, she
                       commissioned him, though in so breathless an accent as made her almost unintelligible,
                       to fetch his master and mistress home instantly.
                           On his quitting the room she sat down, unable to support herself, and looking so
                       miserably ill, that it was impossible for Darcy to leave her, or to refrain from saying, in
                       a tone of gentleness and commiseration, "Let me call your maid. Is there nothing you
                       could take to give you present relief? A glass of wine; shall I get you one? You are very
                         "No, I thank you," she replied, endeavouring to recover herself. "There is nothing the
                       matter with me. I am quite well; I am only distressed by some dreadful news which I
                       have just received from Longbourn."
                          She burst into tears as she alluded to it, and for a few minutes could not speak
                       another word. Darcy, in wretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his
                       concern, and observe her in compassionate silence. At length she spoke again. "I have
                       just had a letter from Jane, with such dreadful news. It cannot be concealed from
                       anyone. My younger sister has left all her friends—has eloped; has thrown herself into
                       the power of—of Mr. Wickham. They are gone off together from Brighton. You know
                       him too well to doubt the rest. She has no money, no connections, nothing that can
                       tempt him to—she is lost for ever."
                         Darcy was fixed in astonishment. "When I consider," she added in a yet more
                       agitated voice, "that I might have prevented it! I, who knew what he was. Had I but
                       explained some part of it only—some part of what I learnt, to my own family! Had his
                       character been known, this could not have happened. But it is all—all too late now."
                         "I am grieved indeed," cried Darcy; "grieved—shocked. But is it certain—absolutely
                         "Oh, yes! They left Brighton together on Sunday night, and were traced almost to
                       London, but not beyond; they are certainly not gone to Scotland."
                          "And what has been done, what has been attempted, to recover her?"
                         "My father is gone to London, and Jane has written to beg my uncle's immediate
                       assistance; and we shall be off, I hope, in half-an-hour. But nothing can be done—I
                       know very well that nothing can be done. How is such a man to be worked on? How are
                       they even to be discovered? I have not the smallest hope. It is every way horrible!"
                          Darcy shook his head in silent acquiescence.
                         "When my eyes were opened to his real character—Oh! had I known what I ought,
                       what I dared to do! But I knew not—I was afraid of doing too much. Wretched,
                       wretched mistake!"
                          Darcy made no answer. He seemed scarcely to hear her, and was walking up and
                       down the room in earnest meditation, his brow contracted, his air gloomy. Elizabeth
                       soon observed, and instantly understood it. Her power was sinking; everything must
                       sink under such a proof of family weakness, such an assurance of the deepest disgrace.
                       She could neither wonder nor condemn, but the belief of his self-conquest brought
                       nothing consolatory to her bosom, afforded no palliation of her distress. It was, on the
                       contrary, exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never had she

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                       so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain.
                          But self, though it would intrude, could not engross her. Lydia—the humiliation, the
                       misery she was bringing on them all, soon swallowed up every private care; and
                       covering her face with her handkerchief, Elizabeth was soon lost to everything else;
                       and, after a pause of several minutes, was only recalled to a sense of her situation by
                       the voice of her companion, who, in a manner which, though it spoke compassion,
                       spoke likewise restraint, said, "I am afraid you have been long desiring my absence, nor
                       have I anything to plead in excuse of my stay, but real, though unavailing concern.
                       Would to Heaven that anything could be either said or done on my part that might offer
                       consolation to such distress! But I will not torment you with vain wishes, which may
                       seem purposely to ask for your thanks. This unfortunate affair will, I fear, prevent my
                       sister's having the pleasure of seeing you at Pemberley to-day."
                         "Oh, yes. Be so kind as to apologise for us to Miss Darcy. Say that urgent business
                       calls us home immediately. Conceal the unhappy truth as long as it is possible, I know it
                       cannot be long."
                         He readily assured her of his secrecy; again expressed his sorrow for her distress,
                       wished it a happier conclusion than there was at present reason to hope, and leaving his
                       compliments for her relations, with only one serious, parting look, went away.
                          As he quitted the room, Elizabeth felt how improbable it was that they should ever
                       see each other again on such terms of cordiality as had marked their several meetings in
                       Derbyshire; and as she threw a retrospective glance over the whole of their
                       acquaintance, so full of contradictions and varieties, sighed at the perverseness of those
                       feelings which would now have promoted its continuance, and would formerly have
                       rejoiced in its termination.
                          If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Elizabeth's change of
                       sentiment will be neither improbable nor faulty. But if otherwise—if regard springing
                       from such sources is unreasonable or unnatural, in comparison of what is so often
                       described as arising on a first interview with its object, and even before two words have
                       been exchanged, nothing can be said in her defence, except that she had given
                       somewhat of a trial to the latter method in her partiality for Wickham, and that its ill
                       success might, perhaps, authorise her to seek the other less interesting mode of
                       attachment. Be that as it may, she saw him go with regret; and in this early example of
                       what Lydia's infamy must produce, found additional anguish as she reflected on that
                       wretched business. Never, since reading Jane's second letter, had she entertained a hope
                       of Wickham's meaning to marry her. No one but Jane, she thought, could flatter herself
                       with such an expectation. Surprise was the least of her feelings on this development.
                       While the contents of the first letter remained in her mind, she was all surprise—all
                       astonishment that Wickham should marry a girl whom it was impossible he could marry
                       for money; and how Lydia could ever have attached him had appeared
                       incomprehensible. But now it was all too natural. For such an attachment as this she
                       might have sufficient charms; and though she did not suppose Lydia to be deliberately
                       engaging in an elopement without the intention of marriage, she had no difficulty in
                       believing that neither her virtue nor her understanding would preserve her from falling
                       an easy prey.
                          She had never perceived, while the regiment was in Hertfordshire, that Lydia had
                       any partiality for him; but she was convinced that Lydia wanted only encouragement to
                       attach herself to anybody. Sometimes one officer, sometimes another, had been her

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                       favourite, as their attentions raised them in her opinion. Her affections had continually
                       been fluctuating but never without an object. The mischief of neglect and mistaken
                       indulgence towards such a girl—oh! how acutely did she now feel it!
                          She was wild to be at home—to hear, to see, to be upon the spot to share with Jane in
                       the cares that must now fall wholly upon her, in a family so deranged, a father absent, a
                       mother incapable of exertion, and requiring constant attendance; and though almost
                       persuaded that nothing could be done for Lydia, her uncle's interference seemed of the
                       utmost importance, and till he entered the room her impatience was severe. Mr. and
                       Mrs. Gardiner had hurried back in alarm, supposing by the servant's account that their
                       niece was taken suddenly ill; but satisfying them instantly on that head, she eagerly
                       communicated the cause of their summons, reading the two letters aloud, and dwelling
                       on the postscript of the last with trembling energy, though Lydia had never been a
                       favourite with them, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner could not but be deeply afflicted. Not
                       Lydia only, but all were concerned in it; and after the first exclamations of surprise and
                       horror, Mr. Gardiner promised every assistance in his power. Elizabeth, though
                       expecting no less, thanked him with tears of gratitude; and all three being actuated by
                       one spirit, everything relating to their journey was speedily settled. They were to be off
                       as soon as possible. "But what is to be done about Pemberley?" cried Mrs. Gardiner.
                       "John told us Mr. Darcy was here when you sent for us; was it so?"
                          "Yes; and I told him we should not be able to keep our engagement. That is all
                         "What is all settled?" repeated the other, as she ran into her room to prepare. "And
                       are they upon such terms as for her to disclose the real truth? Oh, that I knew how it
                          But wishes were vain, or at least could only serve to amuse her in the hurry and
                       confusion of the following hour. Had Elizabeth been at leisure to be idle, she would
                       have remained certain that all employment was impossible to one so wretched as
                       herself; but she had her share of business as well as her aunt, and amongst the rest there
                       were notes to be written to all their friends at Lambton, with false excuses for their
                       sudden departure. An hour, however, saw the whole completed; and Mr. Gardiner
                       meanwhile having settled his account at the inn, nothing remained to be done but to go;
                       and Elizabeth, after all the misery of the morning, found herself, in a shorter space of
                       time than she could have supposed, seated in the carriage, and on the road to

                                                          Chapter 47
                          "I have been thinking it over again, Elizabeth," said her uncle, as they drove from the
                       town; "and really, upon serious consideration, I am much more inclined than I was to
                       judge as your eldest sister does on the matter. It appears to me so very unlikely that any
                       young man should form such a design against a girl who is by no means unprotected or
                       friendless, and who was actually staying in his colonel's family, that I am strongly
                       inclined to hope the best. Could he expect that her friends would not step forward?
                       Could he expect to be noticed again by the regiment, after such an affront to Colonel

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                       Forster? His temptation is not adequate to the risk!"
                          "Do you really think so?" cried Elizabeth, brightening up for a moment.
                          "Upon my word," said Mrs. Gardiner, "I begin to be of your uncle's opinion. It is
                       really too great a violation of decency, honour, and interest, for him to be guilty of. I
                       cannot think so very ill of Wickham. Can you yourself, Lizzy, so wholly give him up, as
                       to believe him capable of it?"
                         "Not, perhaps, of neglecting his own interest; but of every other neglect I can believe
                       him capable. If, indeed, it should be so! But I dare not hope it. Why should they not go
                       on to Scotland if that had been the case?"
                         "In the first place," replied Mr. Gardiner, "there is no absolute proof that they are not
                       gone to Scotland."
                         "Oh! but their removing from the chaise into a hackney coach is such a presumption!
                       And, besides, no traces of them were to be found on the Barnet road."
                         "Well, then—supposing them to be in London. They may be there, though for the
                       purpose of concealment, for no more exceptional purpose. It is not likely that money
                       should be very abundant on either side; and it might strike them that they could be
                       more economically, though less expeditiously, married in London than in Scotland."
                          "But why all this secrecy? Why any fear of detection? Why must their marriage be
                       private? Oh, no, no—this is not likely. His most particular friend, you see by Jane's
                       account, was persuaded of his never intending to marry her. Wickham will never marry
                       a woman without some money. He cannot afford it. And what claims has Lydia—what
                       attraction has she beyond youth, health, and good humour that could make him, for her
                       sake, forego every chance of benefiting himself by marrying well? As to what restraint
                       the apprehensions of disgrace in the corps might throw on a dishonourable elopement
                       with her, I am not able to judge; for I know nothing of the effects that such a step might
                       produce. But as to your other objection, I am afraid it will hardly hold good. Lydia has
                       no brothers to step forward; and he might imagine, from my father's behaviour, from his
                       indolence and the little attention he has ever seemed to give to what was going forward
                       in his family, that he would do as little, and think as little about it, as any father could
                       do, in such a matter."
                          "But can you think that Lydia is so lost to everything but love of him as to consent to
                       live with him on any terms other than marriage?"
                          "It does seem, and it is most shocking indeed," replied Elizabeth, with tears in her
                       eyes, "that a sister's sense of decency and virtue in such a point should admit of doubt.
                       But, really, I know not what to say. Perhaps I am not doing her justice. But she is very
                       young; she has never been taught to think on serious subjects; and for the last half-year,
                       nay, for a twelvemonth—she has been given up to nothing but amusement and vanity.
                       She has been allowed to dispose of her time in the most idle and frivolous manner, and
                       to adopt any opinions that came in her way. Since the ——shire were first quartered in
                       Meryton, nothing but love, flirtation, and officers have been in her head. She has been
                       doing everything in her power by thinking and talking on the subject, to give
                       greater—what shall I call it? susceptibility to her feelings; which are naturally lively
                       enough. And we all know that Wickham has every charm of person and address that
                       can captivate a woman."
                          "But you see that Jane," said her aunt, "does not think so very ill of Wickham as to

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                       believe him capable of the attempt."
                         "Of whom does Jane ever think ill? And who is there, whatever might be their former
                       conduct, that she would think capable of such an attempt, till it were proved against
                       them? But Jane knows, as well as I do, what Wickham really is. We both know that he
                       has been profligate in every sense of the word; that he has neither integrity nor honour;
                       that he is as false and deceitful as he is insinuating."
                         "And do you really know all this?" cried Mrs. Gardiner, whose curiosity as to the
                       mode of her intelligence was all alive.
                          "I do indeed," replied Elizabeth, colouring. "I told you, the other day, of his infamous
                       behaviour to Mr. Darcy; and you yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what
                       manner he spoke of the man who had behaved with such forbearance and liberality
                       towards him. And there are other circumstances which I am not at liberty—which it is
                       not worth while to relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family are endless.
                       From what he said of Miss Darcy I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved,
                       disagreeable girl. Yet he knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was as
                       amiable and unpretending as we have found her."
                         "But does Lydia know nothing of this? can she be ignorant of what you and Jane
                       seem so well to understand?"
                          "Oh, yes!—that, that is the worst of all. Till I was in Kent, and saw so much both of
                       Mr. Darcy and his relation Colonel Fitzwilliam, I was ignorant of the truth myself. And
                       when I returned home, the ——shire was to leave Meryton in a week or fortnight's
                       time. As that was the case, neither Jane, to whom I related the whole, nor I, thought it
                       necessary to make our knowledge public; for of what use could it apparently be to any
                       one, that the good opinion which all the neighbourhood had of him should then be
                       overthrown? And even when it was settled that Lydia should go with Mrs. Forster, the
                       necessity of opening her eyes to his character never occurred to me. That she could be
                       in any danger from the deception never entered my head. That such a consequence as
                       this could ensue, you may easily believe, was far enough from my thoughts."
                         "When they all removed to Brighton, therefore, you had no reason, I suppose, to
                       believe them fond of each other?"
                          "Not the slightest. I can remember no symptom of affection on either side; and had
                       anything of the kind been perceptible, you must be aware that ours is not a family on
                       which it could be thrown away. When first he entered the corps, she was ready enough
                       to admire him; but so we all were. Every girl in or near Meryton was out of her senses
                       about him for the first two months; but he never distinguished her by any particular
                       attention; and, consequently, after a moderate period of extravagant and wild
                       admiration, her fancy for him gave way, and others of the regiment, who treated her
                       with more distinction, again became her favourites."

                         It may be easily believed, that however little of novelty could be added to their fears,
                       hopes, and conjectures, on this interesting subject, by its repeated discussion, no other
                       could detain them from it long, during the whole of the journey. From Elizabeth's
                       thoughts it was never absent. Fixed there by the keenest of all anguish, self-reproach,
                       she could find no interval of ease or forgetfulness.
                          They travelled as expeditiously as possible, and, sleeping one night on the road,

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                       reached Longbourn by dinner time the next day. It was a comfort to Elizabeth to
                       consider that Jane could not have been wearied by long expectations.
                          The little Gardiners, attracted by the sight of a chaise, were standing on the steps of
                       the house as they entered the paddock; and, when the carriage drove up to the door, the
                       joyful surprise that lighted up their faces, and displayed itself over their whole bodies,
                       in a variety of capers and frisks, was the first pleasing earnest of their welcome.
                         Elizabeth jumped out; and, after giving each of them a hasty kiss, hurried into the
                       vestibule, where Jane, who came running down from her mother's apartment,
                       immediately met her.
                         Elizabeth, as she affectionately embraced her, whilst tears filled the eyes of both, lost
                       not a moment in asking whether anything had been heard of the fugitives.
                         "Not yet," replied Jane. "But now that my dear uncle is come, I hope everything will
                       be well."
                          "Is my father in town?"
                          "Yes, he went on Tuesday, as I wrote you word."
                          "And have you heard from him often?"
                          "We have heard only twice. He wrote me a few lines on Wednesday to say that he
                       had arrived in safety, and to give me his directions, which I particularly begged him to
                       do. He merely added that he should not write again till he had something of importance
                       to mention."
                          "And my mother—how is she? How are you all?"
                         "My mother is tolerably well, I trust; though her spirits are greatly shaken. She is
                       upstairs and will have great satisfaction in seeing you all. She does not yet leave her
                       dressing-room. Mary and Kitty, thank Heaven, are quite well."
                         "But you—how are you?" cried Elizabeth. "You look pale. How much you must have
                       gone through!"
                         Her sister, however, assured her of her being perfectly well; and their conversation,
                       which had been passing while Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were engaged with their children,
                       was now put an end to by the approach of the whole party. Jane ran to her uncle and
                       aunt, and welcomed and thanked them both, with alternate smiles and tears.
                          When they were all in the drawing-room, the questions which Elizabeth had already
                       asked were of course repeated by the others, and they soon found that Jane had no
                       intelligence to give. The sanguine hope of good, however, which the benevolence of her
                       heart suggested had not yet deserted her; she still expected that it would all end well,
                       and that every morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia or her father, to
                       explain their proceedings, and, perhaps, announce their marriage.
                          Mrs. Bennet, to whose apartment they all repaired, after a few minutes' conversation
                       together, received them exactly as might be expected; with tears and lamentations of
                       regret, invectives against the villainous conduct of Wickham, and complaints of her
                       own sufferings and ill-usage; blaming everybody but the person to whose ill-judging
                       indulgence the errors of her daughter must principally be owing.

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                         "If I had been able," said she, "to carry my point in going to Brighton, with all my
                       family, this would not have happened; but poor dear Lydia had nobody to take care of
                       her. Why did the Forsters ever let her go out of their sight? I am sure there was some
                       great neglect or other on their side, for she is not the kind of girl to do such a thing if
                       she had been well looked after. I always thought they were very unfit to have the
                       charge of her; but I was overruled, as I always am. Poor dear child! And now here's Mr.
                       Bennet gone away, and I know he will fight Wickham, wherever he meets him and then
                       he will be killed, and what is to become of us all? The Collinses will turn us out before
                       he is cold in his grave, and if you are not kind to us, brother, I do not know what we
                       shall do."
                         They all exclaimed against such terrific ideas; and Mr. Gardiner, after general
                       assurances of his affection for her and all her family, told her that he meant to be in
                       London the very next day, and would assist Mr. Bennet in every endeavour for
                       recovering Lydia.
                          "Do not give way to useless alarm," added he; "though it is right to be prepared for
                       the worst, there is no occasion to look on it as certain. It is not quite a week since they
                       left Brighton. In a few days more we may gain some news of them; and till we know
                       that they are not married, and have no design of marrying, do not let us give the matter
                       over as lost. As soon as I get to town I shall go to my brother, and make him come
                       home with me to Gracechurch Street; and then we may consult together as to what is to
                       be done."
                          "Oh! my dear brother," replied Mrs. Bennet, "that is exactly what I could most wish
                       for. And now do, when you get to town, find them out, wherever they may be; and if
                       they are not married already, make them marry. And as for wedding clothes, do not let
                       them wait for that, but tell Lydia she shall have as much money as she chooses to buy
                       them, after they are married. And, above all, keep Mr. Bennet from fighting. Tell him
                       what a dreadful state I am in, that I am frighted out of my wits—and have such
                       tremblings, such flutterings, all over me—such spasms in my side and pains in my head,
                       and such beatings at heart, that I can get no rest by night nor by day. And tell my dear
                       Lydia not to give any directions about her clothes till she has seen me, for she does not
                       know which are the best warehouses. Oh, brother, how kind you are! I know you will
                       contrive it all."
                         But Mr. Gardiner, though he assured her again of his earnest endeavours in the
                       cause, could not avoid recommending moderation to her, as well in her hopes as her
                       fear; and after talking with her in this manner till dinner was on the table, they all left
                       her to vent all her feelings on the housekeeper, who attended in the absence of her
                          Though her brother and sister were persuaded that there was no real occasion for
                       such a seclusion from the family, they did not attempt to oppose it, for they knew that
                       she had not prudence enough to hold her tongue before the servants, while they waited
                       at table, and judged it better that one only of the household, and the one whom they
                       could most trust should comprehend all her fears and solicitude on the subject.
                          In the dining-room they were soon joined by Mary and Kitty, who had been too
                       busily engaged in their separate apartments to make their appearance before. One came
                       from her books, and the other from her toilette. The faces of both, however, were
                       tolerably calm; and no change was visible in either, except that the loss of her favourite
                       sister, or the anger which she had herself incurred in this business, had given more of

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                       fretfulness than usual to the accents of Kitty. As for Mary, she was mistress enough of
                       herself to whisper to Elizabeth, with a countenance of grave reflection, soon after they
                       were seated at table:
                          "This is a most unfortunate affair, and will probably be much talked of. But we must
                       stem the tide of malice, and pour into the wounded bosoms of each other the balm of
                       sisterly consolation."
                          Then, perceiving in Elizabeth no inclination of replying, she added, "Unhappy as the
                       event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a
                       female is irretrievable; that one false step involves her in endless ruin; that her
                       reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful; and that she cannot be too much guarded
                       in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex."
                          Elizabeth lifted up her eyes in amazement, but was too much oppressed to make any
                       reply. Mary, however, continued to console herself with such kind of moral extractions
                       from the evil before them.
                          In the afternoon, the two elder Miss Bennets were able to be for half-an-hour by
                       themselves; and Elizabeth instantly availed herself of the opportunity of making any
                       inquiries, which Jane was equally eager to satisfy. After joining in general lamentations
                       over the dreadful sequel of this event, which Elizabeth considered as all but certain, and
                       Miss Bennet could not assert to be wholly impossible, the former continued the subject,
                       by saying, "But tell me all and everything about it which I have not already heard. Give
                       me further particulars. What did Colonel Forster say? Had they no apprehension of
                       anything before the elopement took place? They must have seen them together for
                         "Colonel Forster did own that he had often suspected some partiality, especially on
                       Lydia's side, but nothing to give him any alarm. I am so grieved for him! His behaviour
                       was attentive and kind to the utmost. He was coming to us, in order to assure us of his
                       concern, before he had any idea of their not being gone to Scotland: when that
                       apprehension first got abroad, it hastened his journey."
                          "And was Denny convinced that Wickham would not marry? Did he know of their
                       intending to go off? Had Colonel Forster seen Denny himself?"
                         "Yes; but, when questioned by him, Denny denied knowing anything of their plans,
                       and would not give his real opinion about it. He did not repeat his persuasion of their
                       not marrying—and from that, I am inclined to hope, he might have been misunderstood
                         "And till Colonel Forster came himself, not one of you entertained a doubt, I
                       suppose, of their being really married?"
                         "How was it possible that such an idea should enter our brains? I felt a little
                       uneasy—a little fearful of my sister's happiness with him in marriage, because I knew
                       that his conduct had not been always quite right. My father and mother knew nothing of
                       that; they only felt how imprudent a match it must be. Kitty then owned, with a very
                       natural triumph on knowing more than the rest of us, that in Lydia's last letter she had
                       prepared her for such a step. She had known, it seems, of their being in love with each
                       other, many weeks."
                          "But not before they went to Brighton?"

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                          "No, I believe not."
                          "And did Colonel Forster appear to think well of Wickham himself? Does he know
                       his real character?"
                          "I must confess that he did not speak so well of Wickham as he formerly did. He
                       believed him to be imprudent and extravagant. And since this sad affair has taken
                       place, it is said that he left Meryton greatly in debt; but I hope this may be false."
                         "Oh, Jane, had we been less secret, had we told what we knew of him, this could not
                       have happened!"
                         "Perhaps it would have been better," replied her sister. "But to expose the former
                       faults of any person without knowing what their present feelings were, seemed
                       unjustifiable. We acted with the best intentions."
                          "Could Colonel Forster repeat the particulars of Lydia's note to his wife?"
                          "He brought it with him for us to see."
                         Jane then took it from her pocket-book, and gave it to Elizabeth. These were the

                                                        "MY DEAR HARRIET,

                          "You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself
                       at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna
                       Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but
                       one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so
                       think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if
                       you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater, when I write to them and sign
                       my name 'Lydia Wickham.' What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing.
                       Pray make my excuses to Pratt for not keeping my engagement, and dancing with him
                       to-night. Tell him I hope he will excuse me when he knows all; and tell him I will dance
                       with him at the next ball we meet, with great pleasure. I shall send for my clothes when
                       I get to Longbourn; but I wish you would tell Sally to mend a great slit in my worked
                       muslin gown before they are packed up. Good-bye. Give my love to Colonel Forster. I
                       hope you will drink to our good journey.
                          "Your affectionate friend,

                                                          "LYDIA BENNET."

                          "Oh! thoughtless, thoughtless Lydia!" cried Elizabeth when she had finished it.
                       "What a letter is this, to be written at such a moment! But at least it shows that she was
                       serious on the subject of their journey. Whatever he might afterwards persuade her to,
                       it was not on her side a scheme of infamy. My poor father! how he must have felt it!"
                         "I never saw anyone so shocked. He could not speak a word for full ten minutes. My
                       mother was taken ill immediately, and the whole house in such confusion!"
                         "Oh! Jane," cried Elizabeth, "was there a servant belonging to it who did not know
                       the whole story before the end of the day?"

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                         "I do not know. I hope there was. But to be guarded at such a time is very difficult.
                       My mother was in hysterics, and though I endeavoured to give her every assistance in
                       my power, I am afraid I did not do so much as I might have done! But the horror of
                       what might possibly happen almost took from me my faculties."
                         "Your attendance upon her has been too much for you. You do not look well. Oh
                       that I had been with you! you have had every care and anxiety upon yourself alone."
                           "Mary and Kitty have been very kind, and would have shared in every fatigue, I am
                       sure; but I did not think it right for either of them. Kitty is slight and delicate; and Mary
                       studies so much, that her hours of repose should not be broken in on. My aunt Phillips
                       came to Longbourn on Tuesday, after my father went away; and was so good as to stay
                       till Thursday with me. She was of great use and comfort to us all. And Lady Lucas has
                       been very kind; she walked here on Wednesday morning to condole with us, and
                       offered her services, or any of her daughters', if they should be of use to us."
                          "She had better have stayed at home," cried Elizabeth; "perhaps she meant well, but,
                       under such a misfortune as this, one cannot see too little of one's neighbours. Assistance
                       is impossible; condolence insufferable. Let them triumph over us at a distance, and be
                         She then proceeded to inquire into the measures which her father had intended to
                       pursue, while in town, for the recovery of his daughter.
                          "He meant I believe," replied Jane, "to go to Epsom, the place where they last
                       changed horses, see the postilions and try if anything could be made out from them. His
                       principal object must be to discover the number of the hackney coach which took them
                       from Clapham. It had come with a fare from London; and as he thought that the
                       circumstance of a gentleman and lady's removing from one carriage into another might
                       be remarked he meant to make inquiries at Clapham. If he could anyhow discover at
                       what house the coachman had before set down his fare, he determined to make
                       inquiries there, and hoped it might not be impossible to find out the stand and number
                       of the coach. I do not know of any other designs that he had formed; but he was in such
                       a hurry to be gone, and his spirits so greatly discomposed, that I had difficulty in finding
                       out even so much as this."

                                                            Chapter 48
                          The whole party were in hopes of a letter from Mr. Bennet the next morning, but the
                       post came in without bringing a single line from him. His family knew him to be, on all
                       common occasions, a most negligent and dilatory correspondent; but at such a time
                       they had hoped for exertion. They were forced to conclude that he had no pleasing
                       intelligence to send; but even of that they would have been glad to be certain. Mr.
                       Gardiner had waited only for the letters before he set off.
                          When he was gone, they were certain at least of receiving constant information of
                       what was going on, and their uncle promised, at parting, to prevail on Mr. Bennet to
                       return to Longbourn, as soon as he could, to the great consolation of his sister, who

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                       considered it as the only security for her husband's not being killed in a duel.
                          Mrs. Gardiner and the children were to remain in Hertfordshire a few days longer, as
                       the former thought her presence might be serviceable to her nieces. She shared in their
                       attendance on Mrs. Bennet, and was a great comfort to them in their hours of freedom.
                       Their other aunt also visited them frequently, and always, as she said, with the design of
                       cheering and heartening them up—though, as she never came without reporting some
                       fresh instance of Wickham's extravagance or irregularity, she seldom went away
                       without leaving them more dispirited than she found them.
                          All Meryton seemed striving to blacken the man who, but three months before, had
                       been almost an angel of light. He was declared to be in debt to every tradesman in the
                       place, and his intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into
                       every tradesman's family. Everybody declared that he was the wickedest young man in
                       the world; and everybody began to find out that they had always distrusted the
                       appearance of his goodness. Elizabeth, though she did not credit above half of what was
                       said, believed enough to make her former assurance of her sister's ruin more certain;
                       and even Jane, who believed still less of it, became almost hopeless, more especially as
                       the time was now come when, if they had gone to Scotland, which she had never before
                       entirely despaired of, they must in all probability have gained some news of them.
                          Mr. Gardiner left Longbourn on Sunday; on Tuesday his wife received a letter from
                       him; it told them that, on his arrival, he had immediately found out his brother, and
                       persuaded him to come to Gracechurch Street; that Mr. Bennet had been to Epsom and
                       Clapham, before his arrival, but without gaining any satisfactory information; and that
                       he was now determined to inquire at all the principal hotels in town, as Mr. Bennet
                       thought it possible they might have gone to one of them, on their first coming to
                       London, before they procured lodgings. Mr. Gardiner himself did not expect any
                       success from this measure, but as his brother was eager in it, he meant to assist him in
                       pursuing it. He added that Mr. Bennet seemed wholly disinclined at present to leave
                       London and promised to write again very soon. There was also a postscript to this
                          "I have written to Colonel Forster to desire him to find out, if possible, from some of
                       the young man's intimates in the regiment, whether Wickham has any relations or
                       connections who would be likely to know in what part of town he has now concealed
                       himself. If there were anyone that one could apply to with a probability of gaining such
                       a clue as that, it might be of essential consequence. At present we have nothing to guide
                       us. Colonel Forster will, I dare say, do everything in his power to satisfy us on this head.
                       But, on second thoughts, perhaps, Lizzy could tell us what relations he has now living,
                       better than any other person."
                          Elizabeth was at no loss to understand from whence this deference to her authority
                       proceeded; but it was not in her power to give any information of so satisfactory a
                       nature as the compliment deserved. She had never heard of his having had any
                       relations, except a father and mother, both of whom had been dead many years. It was
                       possible, however, that some of his companions in the ——shire might be able to give
                       more information; and though she was not very sanguine in expecting it, the application
                       was a something to look forward to.
                         Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each
                       was when the post was expected. The arrival of letters was the grand object of every
                       morning's impatience. Through letters, whatever of good or bad was to be told would be

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                       communicated, and every succeeding day was expected to bring some news of
                          But before they heard again from Mr. Gardiner, a letter arrived for their father, from
                       a different quarter, from Mr. Collins; which, as Jane had received directions to open all
                       that came for him in his absence, she accordingly read; and Elizabeth, who knew what
                       curiosities his letters always were, looked over her, and read it likewise. It was as

                                                           "MY DEAR SIR,

                          "I feel myself called upon, by our relationship, and my situation in life, to condole
                       with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering under, of which we were
                       yesterday informed by a letter from Hertfordshire. Be assured, my dear sir, that Mrs.
                       Collins and myself sincerely sympathise with you and all your respectable family, in
                       your present distress, which must be of the bitterest kind, because proceeding from a
                       cause which no time can remove. No arguments shall be wanting on my part that can
                       alleviate so severe a misfortune—or that may comfort you, under a circumstance that
                       must be of all others the most afflicting to a parent's mind. The death of your daughter
                       would have been a blessing in comparison of this. And it is the more to be lamented,
                       because there is reason to suppose as my dear Charlotte informs me, that this
                       licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter has proceeded from a faulty degree of
                       indulgence; though, at the same time, for the consolation of yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I
                       am inclined to think that her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could not be
                       guilty of such an enormity, at so early an age. Howsoever that may be, you are
                       grievously to be pitied; in which opinion I am not only joined by Mrs. Collins, but
                       likewise by Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They
                       agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to
                       the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says,
                       will connect themselves with such a family? And this consideration leads me moreover
                       to reflect, with augmented satisfaction, on a certain event of last November; for had it
                       been otherwise, I must have been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me then
                       advise you, dear sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your
                       unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own
                       heinous offense.
                          "I am, dear sir, etc., etc."
                          Mr. Gardiner did not write again till he had received an answer from Colonel Forster;
                       and then he had nothing of a pleasant nature to send. It was not known that Wickham
                       had a single relationship with whom he kept up any connection, and it was certain that
                       he had no near one living. His former acquaintances had been numerous; but since he
                       had been in the militia, it did not appear that he was on terms of particular friendship
                       with any of them. There was no one, therefore, who could be pointed out as likely to
                       give any news of him. And in the wretched state of his own finances, there was a very
                       powerful motive for secrecy, in addition to his fear of discovery by Lydia's relations,
                       for it had just transpired that he had left gaming debts behind him to a very considerable
                       amount. Colonel Forster believed that more than a thousand pounds would be
                       necessary to clear his expenses at Brighton. He owed a good deal in town, but his debts
                       of honour were still more formidable. Mr. Gardiner did not attempt to conceal these
                       particulars from the Longbourn family. Jane heard them with horror. "A gamester!" she
                       cried. "This is wholly unexpected. I had not an idea of it."

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                         Mr. Gardiner added in his letter, that they might expect to see their father at home on
                       the following day, which was Saturday. Rendered spiritless by the ill-success of all their
                       endeavours, he had yielded to his brother-in-law's entreaty that he would return to his
                       family, and leave it to him to do whatever occasion might suggest to be advisable for
                       continuing their pursuit. When Mrs. Bennet was told of this, she did not express so
                       much satisfaction as her children expected, considering what her anxiety for his life had
                       been before.
                          "What, is he coming home, and without poor Lydia?" she cried. "Sure he will not
                       leave London before he has found them. Who is to fight Wickham, and make him
                       marry her, if he comes away?"
                          As Mrs. Gardiner began to wish to be at home, it was settled that she and the
                       children should go to London, at the same time that Mr. Bennet came from it. The
                       coach, therefore, took them the first stage of their journey, and brought its master back
                       to Longbourn.
                          Mrs. Gardiner went away in all the perplexity about Elizabeth and her Derbyshire
                       friend that had attended her from that part of the world. His name had never been
                       voluntarily mentioned before them by her niece; and the kind of half-expectation which
                       Mrs. Gardiner had formed, of their being followed by a letter from him, had ended in
                       nothing. Elizabeth had received none since her return that could come from Pemberley.
                          The present unhappy state of the family rendered any other excuse for the lowness of
                       her spirits unnecessary; nothing, therefore, could be fairly conjectured from that,
                       though Elizabeth, who was by this time tolerably well acquainted with her own feelings,
                       was perfectly aware that, had she known nothing of Darcy, she could have borne the
                       dread of Lydia's infamy somewhat better. It would have spared her, she thought, one
                       sleepless night out of two.
                         When Mr. Bennet arrived, he had all the appearance of his usual philosophic
                       composure. He said as little as he had ever been in the habit of saying; made no
                       mention of the business that had taken him away, and it was some time before his
                       daughters had courage to speak of it.
                          It was not till the afternoon, when he had joined them at tea, that Elizabeth ventured
                       to introduce the subject; and then, on her briefly expressing her sorrow for what he
                       must have endured, he replied, "Say nothing of that. Who should suffer but myself? It
                       has been my own doing, and I ought to feel it."
                          "You must not be too severe upon yourself," replied Elizabeth.
                          "You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it!
                       No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid
                       of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough."
                          "Do you suppose them to be in London?"
                          "Yes; where else can they be so well concealed?"
                          "And Lydia used to want to go to London," added Kitty.
                          "She is happy then," said her father drily; "and her residence there will probably be
                       of some duration."
                          Then after a short silence he continued:

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                         "Lizzy, I bear you no ill-will for being justified in your advice to me last May, which,
                       considering the event, shows some greatness of mind."
                          They were interrupted by Miss Bennet, who came to fetch her mother's tea.
                         "This is a parade," he cried, "which does one good; it gives such an elegance to
                       misfortune! Another day I will do the same; I will sit in my library, in my nightcap and
                       powdering gown, and give as much trouble as I can; or, perhaps, I may defer it till Kitty
                       runs away."
                         "I am not going to run away, papa," said Kitty fretfully. "If I should ever go to
                       Brighton, I would behave better than Lydia."
                          "You go to Brighton. I would not trust you so near it as Eastbourne for fifty pounds!
                       No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No
                       officer is ever to enter into my house again, nor even to pass through the village. Balls
                       will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one of your sisters. And you are
                       never to stir out of doors till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes of every
                       day in a rational manner."
                          Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry.
                         "Well, well," said he, "do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the
                       next ten years, I will take you to a review at the end of them."

                                                            Chapter 49
                          Two days after Mr. Bennet's return, as Jane and Elizabeth were walking together in
                       the shrubbery behind the house, they saw the housekeeper coming towards them, and,
                       concluding that she came to call them to their mother, went forward to meet her; but,
                       instead of the expected summons, when they approached her, she said to Miss Bennet,
                       "I beg your pardon, madam, for interrupting you, but I was in hopes you might have got
                       some good news from town, so I took the liberty of coming to ask."
                          "What do you mean, Hill? We have heard nothing from town."
                         "Dear madam," cried Mrs. Hill, in great astonishment, "don't you know there is an
                       express come for master from Mr. Gardiner? He has been here this half-hour, and
                       master has had a letter."
                         Away ran the girls, too eager to get in to have time for speech. They ran through the
                       vestibule into the breakfast-room; from thence to the library; their father was in neither;
                       and they were on the point of seeking him upstairs with their mother, when they were
                       met by the butler, who said:
                          "If you are looking for my master, ma'am, he is walking towards the little copse."
                         Upon this information, they instantly passed through the hall once more, and ran
                       across the lawn after their father, who was deliberately pursuing his way towards a
                       small wood on one side of the paddock.

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                          Jane, who was not so light nor so much in the habit of running as Elizabeth, soon
                       lagged behind, while her sister, panting for breath, came up with him, and eagerly cried
                          "Oh, papa, what news—what news? Have you heard from my uncle?"
                          "Yes I have had a letter from him by express."
                          "Well, and what news does it bring—good or bad?"
                         "What is there of good to be expected?" said he, taking the letter from his pocket.
                       "But perhaps you would like to read it."
                          Elizabeth impatiently caught it from his hand. Jane now came up.
                          "Read it aloud," said their father, "for I hardly know myself what it is about."
                          "Gracechurch Street, Monday, August 2.

                                                       "MY DEAR BROTHER,

                          "At last I am able to send you some tidings of my niece, and such as, upon the whole,
                       I hope it will give you satisfaction. Soon after you left me on Saturday, I was fortunate
                       enough to find out in what part of London they were. The particulars I reserve till we
                       meet; it is enough to know they are discovered. I have seen them both—"
                          "Then it is as I always hoped," cried Jane; "they are married!"
                          Elizabeth read on:
                          "I have seen them both. They are not married, nor can I find there was any intention
                       of being so; but if you are willing to perform the engagements which I have ventured to
                       make on your side, I hope it will not be long before they are. All that is required of you
                       is, to assure to your daughter, by settlement, her equal share of the five thousand
                       pounds secured among your children after the decease of yourself and my sister; and,
                       moreover, to enter into an engagement of allowing her, during your life, one hundred
                       pounds per annum. These are conditions which, considering everything, I had no
                       hesitation in complying with, as far as I thought myself privileged, for you. I shall send
                       this by express, that no time may be lost in bringing me your answer. You will easily
                       comprehend, from these particulars, that Mr. Wickham's circumstances are not so
                       hopeless as they are generally believed to be. The world has been deceived in that
                       respect; and I am happy to say there will be some little money, even when all his debts
                       are discharged, to settle on my niece, in addition to her own fortune. If, as I conclude
                       will be the case, you send me full powers to act in your name throughout the whole of
                       this business, I will immediately give directions to Haggerston for preparing a proper
                       settlement. There will not be the smallest occasion for your coming to town again;
                       therefore stay quiet at Longbourn, and depend on my diligence and care. Send back
                       your answer as fast as you can, and be careful to write explicitly. We have judged it
                       best that my niece should be married from this house, of which I hope you will approve.
                       She comes to us to-day. I shall write again as soon as anything more is determined on.
                       Yours, etc.,

                                                         "EDW. GARDINER."

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                         "Is it possible?" cried Elizabeth, when she had finished. "Can it be possible that he
                       will marry her?"
                          "Wickham is not so undeserving, then, as we thought him," said her sister. "My dear
                       father, I congratulate you."
                          "And have you answered the letter?" cried Elizabeth.
                          "No; but it must be done soon."
                          Most earnestly did she then entreaty him to lose no more time before he wrote.
                         "Oh! my dear father," she cried, "come back and write immediately. Consider how
                       important every moment is in such a case."
                          "Let me write for you," said Jane, "if you dislike the trouble yourself."
                          "I dislike it very much," he replied; "but it must be done."
                          And so saying, he turned back with them, and walked towards the house.
                         "And may I ask—" said Elizabeth; "but the terms, I suppose, must be complied
                          "Complied with! I am only ashamed of his asking so little."
                          "And they must marry! Yet he is such a man!"
                          "Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things
                       that I want very much to know; one is, how much money your uncle has laid down to
                       bring it about; and the other, how am I ever to pay him."
                          "Money! My uncle!" cried Jane, "what do you mean, sir?"
                         "I mean, that no man in his senses would marry Lydia on so slight a temptation as
                       one hundred a year during my life, and fifty after I am gone."
                          "That is very true," said Elizabeth; "though it had not occurred to me before. His
                       debts to be discharged, and something still to remain! Oh! it must be my uncle's doings!
                       Generous, good man, I am afraid he has distressed himself. A small sum could not do all
                          "No," said her father; "Wickham's a fool if he takes her with a farthing less than ten
                       thousand pounds. I should be sorry to think so ill of him, in the very beginning of our
                          "Ten thousand pounds! Heaven forbid! How is half such a sum to be repaid?"
                         Mr. Bennet made no answer, and each of them, deep in thought, continued silent till
                       they reached the house. Their father then went on to the library to write, and the girls
                       walked into the breakfast-room.
                          "And they are really to be married!" cried Elizabeth, as soon as they were by
                       themselves. "How strange this is! And for this we are to be thankful. That they should
                       marry, small as is their chance of happiness, and wretched as is his character, we are
                       forced to rejoice. Oh, Lydia!"
                          "I comfort myself with thinking," replied Jane, "that he certainly would not marry

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                       Lydia if he had not a real regard for her. Though our kind uncle has done something
                       towards clearing him, I cannot believe that ten thousand pounds, or anything like it, has
                       been advanced. He has children of his own, and may have more. How could he spare
                       half ten thousand pounds?"
                         "If he were ever able to learn what Wickham's debts have been," said Elizabeth, "and
                       how much is settled on his side on our sister, we shall exactly know what Mr. Gardiner
                       has done for them, because Wickham has not sixpence of his own. The kindness of my
                       uncle and aunt can never be requited. Their taking her home, and affording her their
                       personal protection and countenance, is such a sacrifice to her advantage as years of
                       gratitude cannot enough acknowledge. By this time she is actually with them! If such
                       goodness does not make her miserable now, she will never deserve to be happy! What a
                       meeting for her, when she first sees my aunt!"
                          "We must endeavour to forget all that has passed on either side," said Jane: "I hope
                       and trust they will yet be happy. His consenting to marry her is a proof, I will believe,
                       that he is come to a right way of thinking. Their mutual affection will steady them; and
                       I flatter myself they will settle so quietly, and live in so rational a manner, as may in
                       time make their past imprudence forgotten."
                         "Their conduct has been such," replied Elizabeth, "as neither you, nor I, nor anybody
                       can ever forget. It is useless to talk of it."
                          It now occurred to the girls that their mother was in all likelihood perfectly ignorant
                       of what had happened. They went to the library, therefore, and asked their father
                       whether he would not wish them to make it known to her. He was writing and, without
                       raising his head, coolly replied:
                          "Just as you please."
                          "May we take my uncle's letter to read to her?"
                          "Take whatever you like, and get away."
                          Elizabeth took the letter from his writing-table, and they went upstairs together.
                       Mary and Kitty were both with Mrs. Bennet: one communication would, therefore, do
                       for all. After a slight preparation for good news, the letter was read aloud. Mrs. Bennet
                       could hardly contain herself. As soon as Jane had read Mr. Gardiner's hope of Lydia's
                       being soon married, her joy burst forth, and every following sentence added to its
                       exuberance. She was now in an irritation as violent from delight, as she had ever been
                       fidgety from alarm and vexation. To know that her daughter would be married was
                       enough. She was disturbed by no fear for her felicity, nor humbled by any remembrance
                       of her misconduct.
                          "My dear, dear Lydia!" she cried. "This is delightful indeed! She will be married! I
                       shall see her again! She will be married at sixteen! My good, kind brother! I knew how
                       it would be. I knew he would manage everything! How I long to see her! and to see
                       dear Wickham too! But the clothes, the wedding clothes! I will write to my sister
                       Gardiner about them directly. Lizzy, my dear, run down to your father, and ask him
                       how much he will give her. Stay, stay, I will go myself. Ring the bell, Kitty, for Hill. I
                       will put on my things in a moment. My dear, dear Lydia! How merry we shall be
                       together when we meet!"
                          Her eldest daughter endeavoured to give some relief to the violence of these
                       transports, by leading her thoughts to the obligations which Mr. Gardiner's behaviour

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                       laid them all under.
                          "For we must attribute this happy conclusion," she added, "in a great measure to his
                       kindness. We are persuaded that he has pledged himself to assist Mr. Wickham with
                          "Well," cried her mother, "it is all very right; who should do it but her own uncle? If
                       he had not had a family of his own, I and my children must have had all his money, you
                       know; and it is the first time we have ever had anything from him, except a few
                       presents. Well! I am so happy! In a short time I shall have a daughter married. Mrs.
                       Wickham! How well it sounds! And she was only sixteen last June. My dear Jane, I am
                       in such a flutter, that I am sure I can't write; so I will dictate, and you write for me. We
                       will settle with your father about the money afterwards; but the things should be
                       ordered immediately."
                          She was then proceeding to all the particulars of calico, muslin, and cambric, and
                       would shortly have dictated some very plentiful orders, had not Jane, though with some
                       difficulty, persuaded her to wait till her father was at leisure to be consulted. One day's
                       delay, she observed, would be of small importance; and her mother was too happy to be
                       quite so obstinate as usual. Other schemes, too, came into her head.
                         "I will go to Meryton," said she, "as soon as I am dressed, and tell the good, good
                       news to my sister Philips. And as I come back, I can call on Lady Lucas and Mrs. Long.
                       Kitty, run down and order the carriage. An airing would do me a great deal of good, I
                       am sure. Girls, can I do anything for you in Meryton? Oh! Here comes Hill! My dear
                       Hill, have you heard the good news? Miss Lydia is going to be married; and you shall all
                       have a bowl of punch to make merry at her wedding."
                         Mrs. Hill began instantly to express her joy. Elizabeth received her congratulations
                       amongst the rest, and then, sick of this folly, took refuge in her own room, that she
                       might think with freedom.
                          Poor Lydia's situation must, at best, be bad enough; but that it was no worse, she had
                       need to be thankful. She felt it so; and though, in looking forward, neither rational
                       happiness nor worldly prosperity could be justly expected for her sister, in looking back
                       to what they had feared, only two hours ago, she felt all the advantages of what they
                       had gained.

                                                           Chapter 50
                         Mr. Bennet had very often wished before this period of his life that, instead of
                       spending his whole income, he had laid by an annual sum for the better provision of his
                       children, and of his wife, if she survived him. He now wished it more than ever. Had he
                       done his duty in that respect, Lydia need not have been indebted to her uncle for
                       whatever of honour or credit could now be purchased for her. The satisfaction of
                       prevailing on one of the most worthless young men in Great Britain to be her husband
                       might then have rested in its proper place.
                          He was seriously concerned that a cause of so little advantage to anyone should be

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                       forwarded at the sole expense of his brother-in-law, and he was determined, if possible,
                       to find out the extent of his assistance, and to discharge the obligation as soon as he
                          When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be perfectly useless, for, of
                       course, they were to have a son. The son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as
                       he should be of age, and the widow and younger children would by that means be
                       provided for. Five daughters successively entered the world, but yet the son was to
                       come; and Mrs. Bennet, for many years after Lydia's birth, had been certain that he
                       would. This event had at last been despaired of, but it was then too late to be saving.
                       Mrs. Bennet had no turn for economy, and her husband's love of independence had
                       alone prevented their exceeding their income.
                           Five thousand pounds was settled by marriage articles on Mrs. Bennet and the
                       children. But in what proportions it should be divided amongst the latter depended on
                       the will of the parents. This was one point, with regard to Lydia, at least, which was
                       now to be settled, and Mr. Bennet could have no hesitation in acceding to the proposal
                       before him. In terms of grateful acknowledgment for the kindness of his brother, though
                       expressed most concisely, he then delivered on paper his perfect approbation of all that
                       was done, and his willingness to fulfil the engagements that had been made for him. He
                       had never before supposed that, could Wickham be prevailed on to marry his daughter,
                       it would be done with so little inconvenience to himself as by the present arrangement.
                       He would scarcely be ten pounds a year the loser by the hundred that was to be paid
                       them; for, what with her board and pocket allowance, and the continual presents in
                       money which passed to her through her mother's hands, Lydia's expenses had been very
                       little within that sum.
                          That it would be done with such trifling exertion on his side, too, was another very
                       welcome surprise; for his wish at present was to have as little trouble in the business as
                       possible. When the first transports of rage which had produced his activity in seeking
                       her were over, he naturally returned to all his former indolence. His letter was soon
                       dispatched; for, though dilatory in undertaking business, he was quick in its execution.
                       He begged to know further particulars of what he was indebted to his brother, but was
                       too angry with Lydia to send any message to her.
                          The good news spread quickly through the house, and with proportionate speed
                       through the neighbourhood. It was borne in the latter with decent philosophy. To be
                       sure, it would have been more for the advantage of conversation had Miss Lydia
                       Bennet come upon the town; or, as the happiest alternative, been secluded from the
                       world, in some distant farmhouse. But there was much to be talked of in marrying her;
                       and the good-natured wishes for her well-doing which had proceeded before from all
                       the spiteful old ladies in Meryton lost but a little of their spirit in this change of
                       circumstances, because with such an husband her misery was considered certain.
                          It was a fortnight since Mrs. Bennet had been downstairs; but on this happy day she
                       again took her seat at the head of her table, and in spirits oppressively high. No
                       sentiment of shame gave a damp to her triumph. The marriage of a daughter, which had
                       been the first object of her wishes since Jane was sixteen, was now on the point of
                       accomplishment, and her thoughts and her words ran wholly on those attendants of
                       elegant nuptials, fine muslins, new carriages, and servants. She was busily searching
                       through the neighbourhood for a proper situation for her daughter, and, without
                       knowing or considering what their income might be, rejected many as deficient in size
                       and importance.

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                         "Haye Park might do," said she, "if the Gouldings could quit it—or the great house at
                       Stoke, if the drawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off! I could not bear to
                       have her ten miles from me; and as for Pulvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful."
                         Her husband allowed her to talk on without interruption while the servants remained.
                       But when they had withdrawn, he said to her: "Mrs. Bennet, before you take any or all
                       of these houses for your son and daughter, let us come to a right understanding. Into
                       one house in this neighbourhood they shall never have admittance. I will not encourage
                       the impudence of either, by receiving them at Longbourn."
                          A long dispute followed this declaration; but Mr. Bennet was firm. It soon led to
                       another; and Mrs. Bennet found, with amazement and horror, that her husband would
                       not advance a guinea to buy clothes for his daughter. He protested that she should
                       receive from him no mark of affection whatever on the occasion. Mrs. Bennet could
                       hardly comprehend it. That his anger could be carried to such a point of inconceivable
                       resentment as to refuse his daughter a privilege without which her marriage would
                       scarcely seem valid, exceeded all she could believe possible. She was more alive to the
                       disgrace which her want of new clothes must reflect on her daughter's nuptials, than to
                       any sense of shame at her eloping and living with Wickham a fortnight before they took
                         Elizabeth was now most heartily sorry that she had, from the distress of the moment,
                       been led to make Mr. Darcy acquainted with their fears for her sister; for since her
                       marriage would so shortly give the proper termination to the elopement, they might
                       hope to conceal its unfavourable beginning from all those who were not immediately on
                       the spot.
                          She had no fear of its spreading farther through his means. There were few people on
                       whose secrecy she would have more confidently depended; but, at the same time, there
                       was no one whose knowledge of a sister's frailty would have mortified her so
                       much—not, however, from any fear of disadvantage from it individually to herself, for,
                       at any rate, there seemed a gulf impassable between them. Had Lydia's marriage been
                       concluded on the most honourable terms, it was not to be supposed that Mr. Darcy
                       would connect himself with a family where, to every other objection, would now be
                       added an alliance and relationship of the nearest kind with a man whom he so justly
                          From such a connection she could not wonder that he would shrink. The wish of
                       procuring her regard, which she had assured herself of his feeling in Derbyshire, could
                       not in rational expectation survive such a blow as this. She was humbled, she was
                       grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew of what. She became jealous of his
                       esteem, when she could no longer hope to be benefited by it. She wanted to hear of
                       him, when there seemed the least chance of gaining intelligence. She was convinced
                       that she could have been happy with him, when it was no longer likely they should
                          What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could he know that the proposals
                       which she had proudly spurned only four months ago, would now have been most
                       gladly and gratefully received! He was as generous, she doubted not, as the most
                       generous of his sex; but while he was mortal, there must be a triumph.
                          She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and
                       talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own,

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                       would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the
                       advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his
                       manners improved; and from his judgement, information, and knowledge of the world,
                       she must have received benefit of greater importance.
                          But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial
                       felicity really was. An union of a different tendency, and precluding the possibility of
                       the other, was soon to be formed in their family.
                         How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could
                       not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were
                       only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue, she could
                       easily conjecture.

                          Mr. Gardiner soon wrote again to his brother. To Mr. Bennet's acknowledgments he
                       briefly replied, with assurance of his eagerness to promote the welfare of any of his
                       family; and concluded with entreaties that the subject might never be mentioned to him
                       again. The principal purport of his letter was to inform them that Mr. Wickham had
                       resolved on quitting the militia.
                          "It was greatly my wish that he should do so," he added, "as soon as his marriage was
                       fixed on. And I think you will agree with me, in considering the removal from that corps
                       as highly advisable, both on his account and my niece's. It is Mr. Wickham's intention
                       to go into the regulars; and among his former friends, there are still some who are able
                       and willing to assist him in the army. He has the promise of an ensigncy in General
                       ——'s regiment, now quartered in the North. It is an advantage to have it so far from
                       this part of the kingdom. He promises fairly; and I hope among different people, where
                       they may each have a character to preserve, they will both be more prudent. I have
                       written to Colonel Forster, to inform him of our present arrangements, and to request
                       that he will satisfy the various creditors of Mr. Wickham in and near Brighton, with
                       assurances of speedy payment, for which I have pledged myself. And will you give
                       yourself the trouble of carrying similar assurances to his creditors in Meryton, of whom
                       I shall subjoin a list according to his information? He has given in all his debts; I hope at
                       least he has not deceived us. Haggerston has our directions, and all will be completed in
                       a week. They will then join his regiment, unless they are first invited to Longbourn; and
                       I understand from Mrs. Gardiner, that my niece is very desirous of seeing you all before
                       she leaves the South. She is well, and begs to be dutifully remembered to you and your
                       mother.—Yours, etc.,

                                                           "E. GARDINER."

                         Mr. Bennet and his daughters saw all the advantages of Wickham's removal from the
                       ——shire as clearly as Mr. Gardiner could do. But Mrs. Bennet was not so well pleased
                       with it. Lydia's being settled in the North, just when she had expected most pleasure
                       and pride in her company, for she had by no means given up her plan of their residing in
                       Hertfordshire, was a severe disappointment; and, besides, it was such a pity that Lydia
                       should be taken from a regiment where she was acquainted with everybody, and had so
                       many favourites.
                         "She is so fond of Mrs. Forster," said she, "it will be quite shocking to send her away!
                       And there are several of the young men, too, that she likes very much. The officers may
                       not be so pleasant in General ——'s regiment."

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                          His daughter's request, for such it might be considered, of being admitted into her
                       family again before she set off for the North, received at first an absolute negative. But
                       Jane and Elizabeth, who agreed in wishing, for the sake of their sister's feelings and
                       consequence, that she should be noticed on her marriage by her parents, urged him so
                       earnestly yet so rationally and so mildly, to receive her and her husband at Longbourn,
                       as soon as they were married, that he was prevailed on to think as they thought, and act
                       as they wished. And their mother had the satisfaction of knowing that she would be
                       able to show her married daughter in the neighbourhood before she was banished to the
                       North. When Mr. Bennet wrote again to his brother, therefore, he sent his permission
                       for them to come; and it was settled, that as soon as the ceremony was over, they
                       should proceed to Longbourn. Elizabeth was surprised, however, that Wickham should
                       consent to such a scheme, and had she consulted only her own inclination, any meeting
                       with him would have been the last object of her wishes.

                                                           Chapter 51
                          Their sister's wedding day arrived; and Jane and Elizabeth felt for her probably more
                       than she felt for herself. The carriage was sent to meet them at ——, and they were to
                       return in it by dinner-time. Their arrival was dreaded by the elder Miss Bennets, and
                       Jane more especially, who gave Lydia the feelings which would have attended herself,
                       had she been the culprit, and was wretched in the thought of what her sister must
                          They came. The family were assembled in the breakfast room to receive them. Smiles
                       decked the face of Mrs. Bennet as the carriage drove up to the door; her husband
                       looked impenetrably grave; her daughters, alarmed, anxious, uneasy.
                         Lydia's voice was heard in the vestibule; the door was thrown open, and she ran into
                       the room. Her mother stepped forwards, embraced her, and welcomed her with rapture;
                       gave her hand, with an affectionate smile, to Wickham, who followed his lady; and
                       wished them both joy with an alacrity which shewed no doubt of their happiness.
                          Their reception from Mr. Bennet, to whom they then turned, was not quite so cordial.
                       His countenance rather gained in austerity; and he scarcely opened his lips. The easy
                       assurance of the young couple, indeed, was enough to provoke him. Elizabeth was
                       disgusted, and even Miss Bennet was shocked. Lydia was Lydia still; untamed,
                       unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister, demanding their
                       congratulations; and when at length they all sat down, looked eagerly round the room,
                       took notice of some little alteration in it, and observed, with a laugh, that it was a great
                       while since she had been there.
                          Wickham was not at all more distressed than herself, but his manners were always so
                       pleasing, that had his character and his marriage been exactly what they ought, his
                       smiles and his easy address, while he claimed their relationship, would have delighted
                       them all. Elizabeth had not before believed him quite equal to such assurance; but she
                       sat down, resolving within herself to draw no limits in future to the impudence of an
                       impudent man. She blushed, and Jane blushed; but the cheeks of the two who caused
                       their confusion suffered no variation of colour.

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                          There was no want of discourse. The bride and her mother could neither of them talk
                       fast enough; and Wickham, who happened to sit near Elizabeth, began inquiring after
                       his acquaintance in that neighbourhood, with a good humoured ease which she felt very
                       unable to equal in her replies. They seemed each of them to have the happiest
                       memories in the world. Nothing of the past was recollected with pain; and Lydia led
                       voluntarily to subjects which her sisters would not have alluded to for the world.
                          "Only think of its being three months," she cried, "since I went away; it seems but a
                       fortnight I declare; and yet there have been things enough happened in the time. Good
                       gracious! when I went away, I am sure I had no more idea of being married till I came
                       back again! though I thought it would be very good fun if I was."
                          Her father lifted up his eyes. Jane was distressed. Elizabeth looked expressively at
                       Lydia; but she, who never heard nor saw anything of which she chose to be insensible,
                       gaily continued, "Oh! mamma, do the people hereabouts know I am married to-day? I
                       was afraid they might not; and we overtook William Goulding in his curricle, so I was
                       determined he should know it, and so I let down the side-glass next to him, and took off
                       my glove, and let my hand just rest upon the window frame, so that he might see the
                       ring, and then I bowed and smiled like anything."
                          Elizabeth could bear it no longer. She got up, and ran out of the room; and returned
                       no more, till she heard them passing through the hall to the dining parlour. She then
                       joined them soon enough to see Lydia, with anxious parade, walk up to her mother's
                       right hand, and hear her say to her eldest sister, "Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and
                       you must go lower, because I am a married woman."
                         It was not to be supposed that time would give Lydia that embarrassment from which
                       she had been so wholly free at first. Her ease and good spirits increased. She longed to
                       see Mrs. Phillips, the Lucases, and all their other neighbours, and to hear herself called
                       "Mrs. Wickham" by each of them; and in the mean time, she went after dinner to show
                       her ring, and boast of being married, to Mrs. Hill and the two housemaids.
                          "Well, mamma," said she, when they were all returned to the breakfast room, "and
                       what do you think of my husband? Is not he a charming man? I am sure my sisters must
                       all envy me. I only hope they may have half my good luck. They must all go to
                       Brighton. That is the place to get husbands. What a pity it is, mamma, we did not all
                         "Very true; and if I had my will, we should. But my dear Lydia, I don't at all like your
                       going such a way off. Must it be so?"
                         "Oh, lord! yes;—there is nothing in that. I shall like it of all things. You and papa,
                       and my sisters, must come down and see us. We shall be at Newcastle all the winter,
                       and I dare say there will be some balls, and I will take care to get good partners for
                       them all."
                          "I should like it beyond anything!" said her mother.
                         "And then when you go away, you may leave one or two of my sisters behind you;
                       and I dare say I shall get husbands for them before the winter is over."
                          "I thank you for my share of the favour," said Elizabeth; "but I do not particularly
                       like your way of getting husbands."
                          Their visitors were not to remain above ten days with them. Mr. Wickham had

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                       received his commission before he left London, and he was to join his regiment at the
                       end of a fortnight.
                         No one but Mrs. Bennet regretted that their stay would be so short; and she made the
                       most of the time by visiting about with her daughter, and having very frequent parties at
                       home. These parties were acceptable to all; to avoid a family circle was even more
                       desirable to such as did think, than such as did not.
                          Wickham's affection for Lydia was just what Elizabeth had expected to find it; not
                       equal to Lydia's for him. She had scarcely needed her present observation to be
                       satisfied, from the reason of things, that their elopement had been brought on by the
                       strength of her love, rather than by his; and she would have wondered why, without
                       violently caring for her, he chose to elope with her at all, had she not felt certain that
                       his flight was rendered necessary by distress of circumstances; and if that were the
                       case, he was not the young man to resist an opportunity of having a companion.
                         Lydia was exceedingly fond of him. He was her dear Wickham on every occasion;
                       no one was to be put in competition with him. He did every thing best in the world; and
                       she was sure he would kill more birds on the first of September, than any body else in
                       the country.
                          One morning, soon after their arrival, as she was sitting with her two elder sisters, she
                       said to Elizabeth:
                         "Lizzy, I never gave you an account of my wedding, I believe. You were not by,
                       when I told mamma and the others all about it. Are not you curious to hear how it was
                          "No really," replied Elizabeth; "I think there cannot be too little said on the subject."
                          "La! You are so strange! But I must tell you how it went off. We were married, you
                       know, at St. Clement's, because Wickham's lodgings were in that parish. And it was
                       settled that we should all be there by eleven o'clock. My uncle and aunt and I were to
                       go together; and the others were to meet us at the church. Well, Monday morning
                       came, and I was in such a fuss! I was so afraid, you know, that something would
                       happen to put it off, and then I should have gone quite distracted. And there was my
                       aunt, all the time I was dressing, preaching and talking away just as if she was reading a
                       sermon. However, I did not hear above one word in ten, for I was thinking, you may
                       suppose, of my dear Wickham. I longed to know whether he would be married in his
                       blue coat."
                          "Well, and so we breakfasted at ten as usual; I thought it would never be over; for,
                       by the bye, you are to understand, that my uncle and aunt were horrid unpleasant all
                       the time I was with them. If you'll believe me, I did not once put my foot out of doors,
                       though I was there a fortnight. Not one party, or scheme, or anything. To be sure
                       London was rather thin, but, however, the Little Theatre was open. Well, and so just as
                       the carriage came to the door, my uncle was called away upon business to that horrid
                       man Mr. Stone. And then, you know, when once they get together, there is no end of it.
                       Well, I was so frightened I did not know what to do, for my uncle was to give me away;
                       and if we were beyond the hour, we could not be married all day. But, luckily, he came
                       back again in ten minutes' time, and then we all set out. However, I recollected
                       afterwards that if he had been prevented going, the wedding need not be put off, for
                       Mr. Darcy might have done as well."

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                          "Mr. Darcy!" repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement.
                          "Oh, yes!—he was to come there with Wickham, you know. But gracious me! I quite
                       forgot! I ought not to have said a word about it. I promised them so faithfully! What
                       will Wickham say? It was to be such a secret!"
                         "If it was to be secret," said Jane, "say not another word on the subject. You may
                       depend upon my seeking no further."
                         "Oh! certainly," said Elizabeth, though burning with curiosity; "we will ask you no
                        "Thank you," said Lydia, "for if you did, I should certainly tell you all, and then
                       Wickham would be angry."
                         On such encouragement to ask, Elizabeth was forced to put it out of her power, by
                       running away.
                         But to live in ignorance on such a point was impossible; or at least it was impossible
                       not to try for information. Mr. Darcy had been at her sister's wedding. It was exactly a
                       scene, and exactly among people, where he had apparently least to do, and least
                       temptation to go. Conjectures as to the meaning of it, rapid and wild, hurried into her
                       brain; but she was satisfied with none. Those that best pleased her, as placing his
                       conduct in the noblest light, seemed most improbable. She could not bear such
                       suspense; and hastily seizing a sheet of paper, wrote a short letter to her aunt, to request
                       an explanation of what Lydia had dropt, if it were compatible with the secrecy which
                       had been intended.
                          "You may readily comprehend," she added, "what my curiosity must be to know how
                       a person unconnected with any of us, and (comparatively speaking) a stranger to our
                       family, should have been amongst you at such a time. Pray write instantly, and let me
                       understand it—unless it is, for very cogent reasons, to remain in the secrecy which
                       Lydia seems to think necessary; and then I must endeavour to be satisfied with
                          "Not that I shall, though," she added to herself, as she finished the letter; "and my
                       dear aunt, if you do not tell me in an honourable manner, I shall certainly be reduced to
                       tricks and stratagems to find it out."
                         Jane's delicate sense of honour would not allow her to speak to Elizabeth privately of
                       what Lydia had let fall; Elizabeth was glad of it;—till it appeared whether her inquiries
                       would receive any satisfaction, she had rather be without a confidante.

                                                           Chapter 52
                         Elizabeth had the satisfaction of receiving an answer to her letter as soon as she
                       possibly could. She was no sooner in possession of it than, hurrying into the little copse,
                       where she was least likely to be interrupted, she sat down on one of the benches and
                       prepared to be happy; for the length of the letter convinced her that it did not contain a

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                          "Gracechurch street, Sept. 6.

                                                          "MY DEAR NIECE,

                          "I have just received your letter, and shall devote this whole morning to answering it,
                       as I foresee that a little writing will not comprise what I have to tell you. I must confess
                       myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. Don't think me
                       angry, however, for I only mean to let you know that I had not imagined such inquiries
                       to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive my
                       impertinence. Your uncle is as much surprised as I am—and nothing but the belief of
                       your being a party concerned would have allowed him to act as he has done. But if you
                       are really innocent and ignorant, I must be more explicit.
                          "On the very day of my coming home from Longbourn, your uncle had a most
                       unexpected visitor. Mr. Darcy called, and was shut up with him several hours. It was all
                       over before I arrived; so my curiosity was not so dreadfully racked as yours seems to
                       have been. He came to tell Mr. Gardiner that he had found out where your sister and
                       Mr. Wickham were, and that he had seen and talked with them both; Wickham
                       repeatedly, Lydia once. From what I can collect, he left Derbyshire only one day after
                       ourselves, and came to town with the resolution of hunting for them. The motive
                       professed was his conviction of its being owing to himself that Wickham's
                       worthlessness had not been so well known as to make it impossible for any young
                       woman of character to love or confide in him. He generously imputed the whole to his
                       mistaken pride, and confessed that he had before thought it beneath him to lay his
                       private actions open to the world. His character was to speak for itself. He called it,
                       therefore, his duty to step forward, and endeavour to remedy an evil which had been
                       brought on by himself. If he had another motive, I am sure it would never disgrace him.
                       He had been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had
                       something to direct his search, which was more than we had; and the consciousness of
                       this was another reason for his resolving to follow us.
                          "There is a lady, it seems, a Mrs. Younge, who was some time ago governess to Miss
                       Darcy, and was dismissed from her charge on some cause of disapprobation, though he
                       did not say what. She then took a large house in Edward-street, and has since
                       maintained herself by letting lodgings. This Mrs. Younge was, he knew, intimately
                       acquainted with Wickham; and he went to her for intelligence of him as soon as he got
                       to town. But it was two or three days before he could get from her what he wanted. She
                       would not betray her trust, I suppose, without bribery and corruption, for she really did
                       know where her friend was to be found. Wickham indeed had gone to her on their first
                       arrival in London, and had she been able to receive them into her house, they would
                       have taken up their abode with her. At length, however, our kind friend procured the
                       wished-for direction. They were in —— street. He saw Wickham, and afterwards
                       insisted on seeing Lydia. His first object with her, he acknowledged, had been to
                       persuade her to quit her present disgraceful situation, and return to her friends as soon
                       as they could be prevailed on to receive her, offering his assistance, as far as it would
                       go. But he found Lydia absolutely resolved on remaining where she was. She cared for
                       none of her friends; she wanted no help of his; she would not hear of leaving Wickham.
                       She was sure they should be married some time or other, and it did not much signify
                       when. Since such were her feelings, it only remained, he thought, to secure and
                       expedite a marriage, which, in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily

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                       learnt had never been his design. He confessed himself obliged to leave the regiment,
                       on account of some debts of honour, which were very pressing; and scrupled not to lay
                       all the ill-consequences of Lydia's flight on her own folly alone. He meant to resign his
                       commission immediately; and as to his future situation, he could conjecture very little
                       about it. He must go somewhere, but he did not know where, and he knew he should
                       have nothing to live on.
                          "Mr. Darcy asked him why he had not married your sister at once. Though Mr.
                       Bennet was not imagined to be very rich, he would have been able to do something for
                       him, and his situation must have been benefited by marriage. But he found, in reply to
                       this question, that Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making his
                       fortune by marriage in some other country. Under such circumstances, however, he was
                       not likely to be proof against the temptation of immediate relief.
                         "They met several times, for there was much to be discussed. Wickham of course
                       wanted more than he could get; but at length was reduced to be reasonable.
                          "Every thing being settled between them, Mr. Darcy's next step was to make your
                       uncle acquainted with it, and he first called in Gracechurch street the evening before I
                       came home. But Mr. Gardiner could not be seen, and Mr. Darcy found, on further
                       inquiry, that your father was still with him, but would quit town the next morning. He
                       did not judge your father to be a person whom he could so properly consult as your
                       uncle, and therefore readily postponed seeing him till after the departure of the former.
                       He did not leave his name, and till the next day it was only known that a gentleman had
                       called on business.
                          "On Saturday he came again. Your father was gone, your uncle at home, and, as I
                       said before, they had a great deal of talk together.
                         "They met again on Sunday, and then I saw him too. It was not all settled before
                       Monday: as soon as it was, the express was sent off to Longbourn. But our visitor was
                       very obstinate. I fancy, Lizzy, that obstinacy is the real defect of his character, after all.
                       He has been accused of many faults at different times, but this is the true one. Nothing
                       was to be done that he did not do himself; though I am sure (and I do not speak it to be
                       thanked, therefore say nothing about it), your uncle would most readily have settled the
                          "They battled it together for a long time, which was more than either the gentleman
                       or lady concerned in it deserved. But at last your uncle was forced to yield, and instead
                       of being allowed to be of use to his niece, was forced to put up with only having the
                       probable credit of it, which went sorely against the grain; and I really believe your letter
                       this morning gave him great pleasure, because it required an explanation that would rob
                       him of his borrowed feathers, and give the praise where it was due. But, Lizzy, this
                       must go no farther than yourself, or Jane at most.
                          "You know pretty well, I suppose, what has been done for the young people. His
                       debts are to be paid, amounting, I believe, to considerably more than a thousand
                       pounds, another thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and his commission
                       purchased. The reason why all this was to be done by him alone, was such as I have
                       given above. It was owing to him, to his reserve and want of proper consideration, that
                       Wickham's character had been so misunderstood, and consequently that he had been
                       received and noticed as he was. Perhaps there was some truth in this; though I doubt
                       whether his reserve, or anybody's reserve, can be answerable for the event. But in spite

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                       of all this fine talking, my dear Lizzy, you may rest perfectly assured that your uncle
                       would never have yielded, if we had not given him credit for another interest in the
                          "When all this was resolved on, he returned again to his friends, who were still
                       staying at Pemberley; but it was agreed that he should be in London once more when
                       the wedding took place, and all money matters were then to receive the last finish.
                          "I believe I have now told you every thing. It is a relation which you tell me is to give
                       you great surprise; I hope at least it will not afford you any displeasure. Lydia came to
                       us; and Wickham had constant admission to the house. He was exactly what he had
                       been, when I knew him in Hertfordshire; but I would not tell you how little I was
                       satisfied with her behaviour while she staid with us, if I had not perceived, by Jane's
                       letter last Wednesday, that her conduct on coming home was exactly of a piece with it,
                       and therefore what I now tell you can give you no fresh pain. I talked to her repeatedly
                       in the most serious manner, representing to her all the wickedness of what she had
                       done, and all the unhappiness she had brought on her family. If she heard me, it was by
                       good luck, for I am sure she did not listen. I was sometimes quite provoked, but then I
                       recollected my dear Elizabeth and Jane, and for their sakes had patience with her.
                          "Mr. Darcy was punctual in his return, and as Lydia informed you, attended the
                       wedding. He dined with us the next day, and was to leave town again on Wednesday or
                       Thursday. Will you be very angry with me, my dear Lizzy, if I take this opportunity of
                       saying (what I was never bold enough to say before) how much I like him. His
                       behaviour to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire.
                       His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more
                       liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him. I thought him very
                       sly;—he hardly ever mentioned your name. But slyness seems the fashion.
                          "Pray forgive me if I have been very presuming, or at least do not punish me so far as
                       to exclude me from P. I shall never be quite happy till I have been all round the park. A
                       low phaeton, with a nice little pair of ponies, would be the very thing.
                          "But I must write no more. The children have been wanting me this half hour.
                          "Yours, very sincerely,

                                                           "M. GARDINER."

                          The contents of this letter threw Elizabeth into a flutter of spirits, in which it was
                       difficult to determine whether pleasure or pain bore the greatest share. The vague and
                       unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have
                       been doing to forward her sister's match, which she had feared to encourage as an
                       exertion of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded to be just,
                       from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true! He had
                       followed them purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the trouble and
                       mortification attendant on such a research; in which supplication had been necessary to
                       a woman whom he must abominate and despise, and where he was reduced to meet,
                       frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe, the man whom he always
                       most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce. He
                       had done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem. Her heart did
                       whisper that he had done it for her. But it was a hope shortly checked by other
                       considerations, and she soon felt that even her vanity was insufficient, when required to

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                       depend on his affection for her—for a woman who had already refused him—as able to
                       overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence against relationship with Wickham.
                       Brother-in-law of Wickham! Every kind of pride must revolt from the connection. He
                       had, to be sure, done much. She was ashamed to think how much. But he had given a
                       reason for his interference, which asked no extraordinary stretch of belief. It was
                       reasonable that he should feel he had been wrong; he had liberality, and he had the
                       means of exercising it; and though she would not place herself as his principal
                       inducement, she could, perhaps, believe that remaining partiality for her might assist his
                       endeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially concerned. It was
                       painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who
                       could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every
                       thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had
                       ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself
                       she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and
                       honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt's
                       commendation of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She
                       was even sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how
                       steadfastly both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence
                       subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself.
                         She was roused from her seat, and her reflections, by some one's approach; and
                       before she could strike into another path, she was overtaken by Wickham.
                         "I am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble, my dear sister?" said he, as he joined
                          "You certainly do," she replied with a smile; "but it does not follow that the
                       interruption must be unwelcome."
                         "I should be sorry indeed, if it were. We were always good friends; and now we are
                          "True. Are the others coming out?"
                         "I do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are going in the carriage to Meryton. And so,
                       my dear sister, I find, from our uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley."
                          She replied in the affirmative.
                          "I almost envy you the pleasure, and yet I believe it would be too much for me, or
                       else I could take it in my way to Newcastle. And you saw the old housekeeper, I
                       suppose? Poor Reynolds, she was always very fond of me. But of course she did not
                       mention my name to you."
                          "Yes, she did."
                          "And what did she say?"
                         "That you were gone into the army, and she was afraid had—not turned out well. At
                       such a distance as that, you know, things are strangely misrepresented."
                         "Certainly," he replied, biting his lips. Elizabeth hoped she had silenced him; but he
                       soon afterwards said:
                          "I was surprised to see Darcy in town last month. We passed each other several
                       times. I wonder what he can be doing there."

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                         "Perhaps preparing for his marriage with Miss de Bourgh," said Elizabeth. "It must be
                       something particular, to take him there at this time of year."
                          "Undoubtedly. Did you see him while you were at Lambton? I thought I understood
                       from the Gardiners that you had."
                          "Yes; he introduced us to his sister."
                          "And do you like her?"
                          "Very much."
                         "I have heard, indeed, that she is uncommonly improved within this year or two.
                       When I last saw her, she was not very promising. I am very glad you liked her. I hope
                       she will turn out well."
                          "I dare say she will; she has got over the most trying age."
                          "Did you go by the village of Kympton?"
                          "I do not recollect that we did."
                          "I mention it, because it is the living which I ought to have had. A most delightful
                       place!—Excellent Parsonage House! It would have suited me in every respect."
                          "How should you have liked making sermons?"
                          "Exceedingly well. I should have considered it as part of my duty, and the exertion
                       would soon have been nothing. One ought not to repine;—but, to be sure, it would have
                       been such a thing for me! The quiet, the retirement of such a life would have answered
                       all my ideas of happiness! But it was not to be. Did you ever hear Darcy mention the
                       circumstance, when you were in Kent?"
                         "I have heard from authority, which I thought as good, that it was left you
                       conditionally only, and at the will of the present patron."
                         "You have. Yes, there was something in that; I told you so from the first, you may
                          "I did hear, too, that there was a time, when sermon-making was not so palatable to
                       you as it seems to be at present; that you actually declared your resolution of never
                       taking orders, and that the business had been compromised accordingly."
                         "You did! and it was not wholly without foundation. You may remember what I told
                       you on that point, when first we talked of it."
                         They were now almost at the door of the house, for she had walked fast to get rid of
                       him; and unwilling, for her sister's sake, to provoke him, she only said in reply, with a
                       good-humoured smile:
                         "Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel
                       about the past. In future, I hope we shall be always of one mind."
                         She held out her hand; he kissed it with affectionate gallantry, though he hardly knew
                       how to look, and they entered the house.

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                                                          Chapter 53
                           Mr. Wickham was so perfectly satisfied with this conversation that he never again
                       distressed himself, or provoked his dear sister Elizabeth, by introducing the subject of
                       it; and she was pleased to find that she had said enough to keep him quiet.
                         The day of his and Lydia's departure soon came, and Mrs. Bennet was forced to
                       submit to a separation, which, as her husband by no means entered into her scheme of
                       their all going to Newcastle, was likely to continue at least a twelvemonth.
                          "Oh! my dear Lydia," she cried, "when shall we meet again?"
                          "Oh, lord! I don't know. Not these two or three years, perhaps."
                          "Write to me very often, my dear."
                        "As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing.
                       My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing else to do."
                          Mr. Wickham's adieus were much more affectionate than his wife's. He smiled,
                       looked handsome, and said many pretty things.
                         "He is as fine a fellow," said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, "as
                       ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of
                       him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law."
                          The loss of her daughter made Mrs. Bennet very dull for several days.
                         "I often think," said she, "that there is nothing so bad as parting with one's friends.
                       One seems so forlorn without them."
                          "This is the consequence, you see, Madam, of marrying a daughter," said Elizabeth.
                       "It must make you better satisfied that your other four are single."
                         "It is no such thing. Lydia does not leave me because she is married, but only
                       because her husband's regiment happens to be so far off. If that had been nearer, she
                       would not have gone so soon."
                          But the spiritless condition which this event threw her into was shortly relieved, and
                       her mind opened again to the agitation of hope, by an article of news which then began
                       to be in circulation. The housekeeper at Netherfield had received orders to prepare for
                       the arrival of her master, who was coming down in a day or two, to shoot there for
                       several weeks. Mrs. Bennet was quite in the fidgets. She looked at Jane, and smiled and
                       shook her head by turns.
                          "Well, well, and so Mr. Bingley is coming down, sister," (for Mrs. Phillips first
                       brought her the news). "Well, so much the better. Not that I care about it, though. He is
                       nothing to us, you know, and I am sure I never want to see him again. But, however, he
                       is very welcome to come to Netherfield, if he likes it. And who knows what may
                       happen? But that is nothing to us. You know, sister, we agreed long ago never to
                       mention a word about it. And so, is it quite certain he is coming?"
                          "You may depend on it," replied the other, "for Mrs. Nicholls was in Meryton last

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                       night; I saw her passing by, and went out myself on purpose to know the truth of it; and
                       she told me that it was certain true. He comes down on Thursday at the latest, very
                       likely on Wednesday. She was going to the butcher's, she told me, on purpose to order
                       in some meat on Wednesday, and she has got three couple of ducks just fit to be killed."
                         Miss Bennet had not been able to hear of his coming without changing colour. It was
                       many months since she had mentioned his name to Elizabeth; but now, as soon as they
                       were alone together, she said:
                          "I saw you look at me to-day, Lizzy, when my aunt told us of the present report; and
                       I know I appeared distressed. But don't imagine it was from any silly cause. I was only
                       confused for the moment, because I felt that I should be looked at. I do assure you that
                       the news does not affect me either with pleasure or pain. I am glad of one thing, that he
                       comes alone; because we shall see the less of him. Not that I am afraid of myself, but I
                       dread other people's remarks."
                         Elizabeth did not know what to make of it. Had she not seen him in Derbyshire, she
                       might have supposed him capable of coming there with no other view than what was
                       acknowledged; but she still thought him partial to Jane, and she wavered as to the
                       greater probability of his coming there with his friend's permission, or being bold
                       enough to come without it.
                         "Yet it is hard," she sometimes thought, "that this poor man cannot come to a house
                       which he has legally hired, without raising all this speculation! I will leave him to
                         In spite of what her sister declared, and really believed to be her feelings in the
                       expectation of his arrival, Elizabeth could easily perceive that her spirits were affected
                       by it. They were more disturbed, more unequal, than she had often seen them.
                         The subject which had been so warmly canvassed between their parents, about a
                       twelvemonth ago, was now brought forward again.
                         "As soon as ever Mr. Bingley comes, my dear," said Mrs. Bennet, "you will wait on
                       him of course."
                         "No, no. You forced me into visiting him last year, and promised, if I went to see
                       him, he should marry one of my daughters. But it ended in nothing, and I will not be
                       sent on a fool's errand again."
                          His wife represented to him how absolutely necessary such an attention would be
                       from all the neighbouring gentlemen, on his returning to Netherfield.
                          "'Tis an etiquette I despise," said he. "If he wants our society, let him seek it. He
                       knows where we live. I will not spend my hours in running after my neighbours every
                       time they go away and come back again."
                         "Well, all I know is, that it will be abominably rude if you do not wait on him. But,
                       however, that shan't prevent my asking him to dine here, I am determined. We must
                       have Mrs. Long and the Gouldings soon. That will make thirteen with ourselves, so
                       there will be just room at table for him."
                         Consoled by this resolution, she was the better able to bear her husband's incivility;
                       though it was very mortifying to know that her neighbours might all see Mr. Bingley, in
                       consequence of it, before they did. As the day of his arrival drew near:

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                         "I begin to be sorry that he comes at all," said Jane to her sister. "It would be nothing;
                       I could see him with perfect indifference, but I can hardly bear to hear it thus
                       perpetually talked of. My mother means well; but she does not know, no one can know,
                       how much I suffer from what she says. Happy shall I be, when his stay at Netherfield is
                         "I wish I could say anything to comfort you," replied Elizabeth; "but it is wholly out
                       of my power. You must feel it; and the usual satisfaction of preaching patience to a
                       sufferer is denied me, because you have always so much."
                          Mr. Bingley arrived. Mrs. Bennet, through the assistance of servants, contrived to
                       have the earliest tidings of it, that the period of anxiety and fretfulness on her side
                       might be as long as it could. She counted the days that must intervene before their
                       invitation could be sent; hopeless of seeing him before. But on the third morning after
                       his arrival in Hertfordshire, she saw him, from her dressing-room window, enter the
                       paddock and ride towards the house.
                          Her daughters were eagerly called to partake of her joy. Jane resolutely kept her
                       place at the table; but Elizabeth, to satisfy her mother, went to the window—she
                       looked,—she saw Mr. Darcy with him, and sat down again by her sister.
                          "There is a gentleman with him, mamma," said Kitty; "who can it be?"
                          "Some acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I do not know."
                         "La!" replied Kitty, "it looks just like that man that used to be with him before. Mr.
                       what's-his-name. That tall, proud man."
                         "Good gracious! Mr. Darcy!—and so it does, I vow. Well, any friend of Mr.
                       Bingley's will always be welcome here, to be sure; but else I must say that I hate the
                       very sight of him."
                          Jane looked at Elizabeth with surprise and concern. She knew but little of their
                       meeting in Derbyshire, and therefore felt for the awkwardness which must attend her
                       sister, in seeing him almost for the first time after receiving his explanatory letter. Both
                       sisters were uncomfortable enough. Each felt for the other, and of course for
                       themselves; and their mother talked on, of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and her resolution
                       to be civil to him only as Mr. Bingley's friend, without being heard by either of them.
                       But Elizabeth had sources of uneasiness which could not be suspected by Jane, to
                       whom she had never yet had courage to shew Mrs. Gardiner's letter, or to relate her
                       own change of sentiment towards him. To Jane, he could be only a man whose
                       proposals she had refused, and whose merit she had undervalued; but to her own more
                       extensive information, he was the person to whom the whole family were indebted for
                       the first of benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest, if not quite so
                       tender, at least as reasonable and just as what Jane felt for Bingley. Her astonishment at
                       his coming—at his coming to Netherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her
                       again, was almost equal to what she had known on first witnessing his altered behaviour
                       in Derbyshire.
                         The colour which had been driven from her face, returned for half a minute with an
                       additional glow, and a smile of delight added lustre to her eyes, as she thought for that
                       space of time that his affection and wishes must still be unshaken. But she would not be
                          "Let me first see how he behaves," said she; "it will then be early enough for

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                         She sat intently at work, striving to be composed, and without daring to lift up her
                       eyes, till anxious curiosity carried them to the face of her sister as the servant was
                       approaching the door. Jane looked a little paler than usual, but more sedate than
                       Elizabeth had expected. On the gentlemen's appearing, her colour increased; yet she
                       received them with tolerable ease, and with a propriety of behaviour equally free from
                       any symptom of resentment or any unnecessary complaisance.
                          Elizabeth said as little to either as civility would allow, and sat down again to her
                       work, with an eagerness which it did not often command. She had ventured only one
                       glance at Darcy. He looked serious, as usual; and, she thought, more as he had been
                       used to look in Hertfordshire, than as she had seen him at Pemberley. But, perhaps he
                       could not in her mother's presence be what he was before her uncle and aunt. It was a
                       painful, but not an improbable, conjecture.
                          Bingley, she had likewise seen for an instant, and in that short period saw him
                       looking both pleased and embarrassed. He was received by Mrs. Bennet with a degree
                       of civility which made her two daughters ashamed, especially when contrasted with the
                       cold and ceremonious politeness of her curtsey and address to his friend.
                          Elizabeth, particularly, who knew that her mother owed to the latter the preservation
                       of her favourite daughter from irremediable infamy, was hurt and distressed to a most
                       painful degree by a distinction so ill applied.
                          Darcy, after inquiring of her how Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner did, a question which she
                       could not answer without confusion, said scarcely anything. He was not seated by her;
                       perhaps that was the reason of his silence; but it had not been so in Derbyshire. There
                       he had talked to her friends, when he could not to herself. But now several minutes
                       elapsed without bringing the sound of his voice; and when occasionally, unable to resist
                       the impulse of curiosity, she raised her eyes to his face, she as often found him looking
                       at Jane as at herself, and frequently on no object but the ground. More thoughtfulness
                       and less anxiety to please, than when they last met, were plainly expressed. She was
                       disappointed, and angry with herself for being so.
                          "Could I expect it to be otherwise!" said she. "Yet why did he come?"
                         She was in no humour for conversation with anyone but himself; and to him she had
                       hardly courage to speak.
                          She inquired after his sister, but could do no more.
                          "It is a long time, Mr. Bingley, since you went away," said Mrs. Bennet.
                          He readily agreed to it.
                          "I began to be afraid you would never come back again. People did say you meant to
                       quit the place entirely at Michaelmas; but, however, I hope it is not true. A great many
                       changes have happened in the neighbourhood, since you went away. Miss Lucas is
                       married and settled. And one of my own daughters. I suppose you have heard of it;
                       indeed, you must have seen it in the papers. It was in The Times and The Courier, I
                       know; though it was not put in as it ought to be. It was only said, 'Lately, George
                       Wickham, Esq. to Miss Lydia Bennet,' without there being a syllable said of her father,
                       or the place where she lived, or anything. It was my brother Gardiner's drawing up too,
                       and I wonder how he came to make such an awkward business of it. Did you see it?"

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                         Bingley replied that he did, and made his congratulations. Elizabeth dared not lift up
                       her eyes. How Mr. Darcy looked, therefore, she could not tell.
                          "It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married," continued her
                       mother, "but at the same time, Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way
                       from me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward, it seems, and
                       there they are to stay I do not know how long. His regiment is there; for I suppose you
                       have heard of his leaving the ——shire, and of his being gone into the regulars. Thank
                       Heaven! he has some friends, though perhaps not so many as he deserves."
                         Elizabeth, who knew this to be levelled at Mr. Darcy, was in such misery of shame,
                       that she could hardly keep her seat. It drew from her, however, the exertion of
                       speaking, which nothing else had so effectually done before; and she asked Bingley
                       whether he meant to make any stay in the country at present. A few weeks, he
                         "When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley," said her mother, "I beg you
                       will come here, and shoot as many as you please on Mr. Bennet's manor. I am sure he
                       will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the best of the covies for you."
                         Elizabeth's misery increased, at such unnecessary, such officious attention! Were the
                       same fair prospect to arise at present as had flattered them a year ago, every thing, she
                       was persuaded, would be hastening to the same vexatious conclusion. At that instant,
                       she felt that years of happiness could not make Jane or herself amends for moments of
                       such painful confusion.
                         "The first wish of my heart," said she to herself, "is never more to be in company
                       with either of them. Their society can afford no pleasure that will atone for such
                       wretchedness as this! Let me never see either one or the other again!"
                          Yet the misery, for which years of happiness were to offer no compensation,
                       received soon afterwards material relief, from observing how much the beauty of her
                       sister re-kindled the admiration of her former lover. When first he came in, he had
                       spoken to her but little; but every five minutes seemed to be giving her more of his
                       attention. He found her as handsome as she had been last year; as good natured, and as
                       unaffected, though not quite so chatty. Jane was anxious that no difference should be
                       perceived in her at all, and was really persuaded that she talked as much as ever. But
                       her mind was so busily engaged, that she did not always know when she was silent.
                          When the gentlemen rose to go away, Mrs. Bennet was mindful of her intended
                       civility, and they were invited and engaged to dine at Longbourn in a few days time.
                          "You are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley," she added, "for when you went to
                       town last winter, you promised to take a family dinner with us, as soon as you returned.
                       I have not forgot, you see; and I assure you, I was very much disappointed that you did
                       not come back and keep your engagement."
                         Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said something of his concern at
                       having been prevented by business. They then went away.
                          Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to stay and dine there that day;
                       but, though she always kept a very good table, she did not think anything less than two
                       courses could be good enough for a man on whom she had such anxious designs, or
                       satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had ten thousand a year.

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                                                           Chapter 54
                         As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or in other
                       words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more. Mr.
                       Darcy's behaviour astonished and vexed her.
                          "Why, if he came only to be silent, grave, and indifferent," said she, "did he come at
                          She could settle it in no way that gave her pleasure.
                          "He could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle and aunt, when he was in town;
                       and why not to me? If he fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares for me, why
                       silent? Teasing, teasing, man! I will think no more about him."
                          Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept by the approach of her sister,
                       who joined her with a cheerful look, which showed her better satisfied with their
                       visitors, than Elizabeth.
                          "Now," said she, "that this first meeting is over, I feel perfectly easy. I know my own
                       strength, and I shall never be embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here
                       on Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen that, on both sides, we meet only as common
                       and indifferent acquaintance."
                          "Yes, very indifferent indeed," said Elizabeth, laughingly. "Oh, Jane, take care."
                          "My dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak, as to be in danger now?"
                         "I think you are in very great danger of making him as much in love with you as

                         They did not see the gentlemen again till Tuesday; and Mrs. Bennet, in the
                       meanwhile, was giving way to all the happy schemes, which the good humour and
                       common politeness of Bingley, in half an hour's visit, had revived.
                          On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at Longbourn; and the two who were
                       most anxiously expected, to the credit of their punctuality as sportsmen, were in very
                       good time. When they repaired to the dining-room, Elizabeth eagerly watched to see
                       whether Bingley would take the place, which, in all their former parties, had belonged
                       to him, by her sister. Her prudent mother, occupied by the same ideas, forbore to invite
                       him to sit by herself. On entering the room, he seemed to hesitate; but Jane happened to
                       look round, and happened to smile: it was decided. He placed himself by her.
                         Elizabeth, with a triumphant sensation, looked towards his friend. He bore it with
                       noble indifference, and she would have imagined that Bingley had received his sanction
                       to be happy, had she not seen his eyes likewise turned towards Mr. Darcy, with an
                       expression of half-laughing alarm.
                          His behaviour to her sister was such, during dinner time, as showed an admiration of

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                       her, which, though more guarded than formerly, persuaded Elizabeth, that if left wholly
                       to himself, Jane's happiness, and his own, would be speedily secured. Though she dared
                       not depend upon the consequence, she yet received pleasure from observing his
                       behaviour. It gave her all the animation that her spirits could boast; for she was in no
                       cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy was almost as far from her as the table could divide them.
                       He was on one side of her mother. She knew how little such a situation would give
                       pleasure to either, or make either appear to advantage. She was not near enough to hear
                       any of their discourse, but she could see how seldom they spoke to each other, and how
                       formal and cold was their manner whenever they did. Her mother's ungraciousness,
                       made the sense of what they owed him more painful to Elizabeth's mind; and she
                       would, at times, have given anything to be privileged to tell him that his kindness was
                       neither unknown nor unfelt by the whole of the family.
                          She was in hopes that the evening would afford some opportunity of bringing them
                       together; that the whole of the visit would not pass away without enabling them to enter
                       into something more of conversation than the mere ceremonious salutation attending his
                       entrance. Anxious and uneasy, the period which passed in the drawing-room, before the
                       gentlemen came, was wearisome and dull to a degree that almost made her uncivil. She
                       looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all her chance of pleasure for the
                       evening must depend.
                          "If he does not come to me, then," said she, "I shall give him up for ever."
                         The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her
                       hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was
                       making tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy that there
                       was not a single vacancy near her which would admit of a chair. And on the
                       gentlemen's approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a
                          "The men shan't come and part us, I am determined. We want none of them; do we?"
                         Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes,
                       envied everyone to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to
                       coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly!
                          "A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a
                       renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex, who would not protest against such a
                       weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent
                       to their feelings!"
                         She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his coffee cup himself; and
                       she seized the opportunity of saying:
                          "Is your sister at Pemberley still?"
                          "Yes, she will remain there till Christmas."
                          "And quite alone? Have all her friends left her?"
                          "Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone on to Scarborough, these
                       three weeks."
                         She could think of nothing more to say; but if he wished to converse with her, he
                       might have better success. He stood by her, however, for some minutes, in silence; and,

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                       at last, on the young lady's whispering to Elizabeth again, he walked away.
                          When the tea-things were removed, and the card-tables placed, the ladies all rose,
                       and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views were
                       overthrown by seeing him fall a victim to her mother's rapacity for whist players, and in
                       a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. She now lost every expectation
                       of pleasure. They were confined for the evening at different tables, and she had nothing
                       to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the room, as to make
                       him play as unsuccessfully as herself.
                         Mrs. Bennet had designed to keep the two Netherfield gentlemen to supper; but their
                       carriage was unluckily ordered before any of the others, and she had no opportunity of
                       detaining them.
                          "Well girls," said she, as soon as they were left to themselves, "What say you to the
                       day? I think every thing has passed off uncommonly well, I assure you. The dinner was
                       as well dressed as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn—and everybody
                       said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was fifty times better than what we had
                       at the Lucases' last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were
                       remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least. And,
                       my dear Jane, I never saw you look in greater beauty. Mrs. Long said so too, for I asked
                       her whether you did not. And what do you think she said besides? 'Ah! Mrs. Bennet, we
                       shall have her at Netherfield at last.' She did indeed. I do think Mrs. Long is as good a
                       creature as ever lived—and her nieces are very pretty behaved girls, and not at all
                       handsome: I like them prodigiously."
                          Mrs. Bennet, in short, was in very great spirits; she had seen enough of Bingley's
                       behaviour to Jane, to be convinced that she would get him at last; and her expectations
                       of advantage to her family, when in a happy humour, were so far beyond reason, that
                       she was quite disappointed at not seeing him there again the next day, to make his
                          "It has been a very agreeable day," said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. "The party seemed
                       so well selected, so suitable one with the other. I hope we may often meet again."
                          Elizabeth smiled.
                          "Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me. I assure you
                       that I have now learnt to enjoy his conversation as an agreeable and sensible young
                       man, without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied, from what his manners
                       now are, that he never had any design of engaging my affection. It is only that he is
                       blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of generally pleasing,
                       than any other man."
                         "You are very cruel," said her sister, "you will not let me smile, and are provoking
                       me to it every moment."
                          "How hard it is in some cases to be believed!"
                          "And how impossible in others!"
                          "But why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I acknowledge?"
                         "That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all love to instruct,
                       though we can teach only what is not worth knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in

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                       indifference, do not make me your confidante."

                                                          Chapter 55
                          A few days after this visit, Mr. Bingley called again, and alone. His friend had left
                       him that morning for London, but was to return home in ten days time. He sat with
                       them above an hour, and was in remarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited him to
                       dine with them; but, with many expressions of concern, he confessed himself engaged
                          "Next time you call," said she, "I hope we shall be more lucky."
                          He should be particularly happy at any time, etc. etc.; and if she would give him
                       leave, would take an early opportunity of waiting on them.
                          "Can you come to-morrow?"
                         Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her invitation was accepted
                       with alacrity.
                          He came, and in such very good time that the ladies were none of them dressed. In
                       ran Mrs. Bennet to her daughter's room, in her dressing gown, and with her hair half
                       finished, crying out:
                          "My dear Jane, make haste and hurry down. He is come—Mr. Bingley is come. He
                       is, indeed. Make haste, make haste. Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment,
                       and help her on with her gown. Never mind Miss Lizzy's hair."
                         "We will be down as soon as we can," said Jane; "but I dare say Kitty is forwarder
                       than either of us, for she went up stairs half an hour ago."
                         "Oh! hang Kitty! what has she to do with it? Come be quick, be quick! Where is your
                       sash, my dear?"
                         But when her mother was gone, Jane would not be prevailed on to go down without
                       one of her sisters.
                          The same anxiety to get them by themselves was visible again in the evening. After
                       tea, Mr. Bennet retired to the library, as was his custom, and Mary went up stairs to her
                       instrument. Two obstacles of the five being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet sat looking and
                       winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for a considerable time, without making any
                       impression on them. Elizabeth would not observe her; and when at last Kitty did, she
                       very innocently said, "What is the matter mamma? What do you keep winking at me
                       for? What am I to do?"
                         "Nothing child, nothing. I did not wink at you." She then sat still five minutes longer;
                       but unable to waste such a precious occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty,
                       "Come here, my love, I want to speak to you," took her out of the room. Jane instantly
                       gave a look at Elizabeth which spoke her distress at such premeditation, and her
                       entreaty that she would not give in to it. In a few minutes, Mrs. Bennet half-opened the

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                       door and called out:
                          "Lizzy, my dear, I want to speak with you."
                          Elizabeth was forced to go.
                         "We may as well leave them by themselves you know;" said her mother, as soon as
                       she was in the hall. "Kitty and I are going upstairs to sit in my dressing-room."
                         Elizabeth made no attempt to reason with her mother, but remained quietly in the
                       hall, till she and Kitty were out of sight, then returned into the drawing-room.
                           Mrs. Bennet's schemes for this day were ineffectual. Bingley was every thing that
                       was charming, except the professed lover of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness
                       rendered him a most agreeable addition to their evening party; and he bore with the
                       ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all her silly remarks with a forbearance
                       and command of countenance particularly grateful to the daughter.
                         He scarcely needed an invitation to stay supper; and before he went away, an
                       engagement was formed, chiefly through his own and Mrs. Bennet's means, for his
                       coming next morning to shoot with her husband.
                          After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference. Not a word passed between the
                       sisters concerning Bingley; but Elizabeth went to bed in the happy belief that all must
                       speedily be concluded, unless Mr. Darcy returned within the stated time. Seriously,
                       however, she felt tolerably persuaded that all this must have taken place with that
                       gentleman's concurrence.
                          Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet spent the morning
                       together, as had been agreed on. The latter was much more agreeable than his
                       companion expected. There was nothing of presumption or folly in Bingley that could
                       provoke his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he was more communicative, and
                       less eccentric, than the other had ever seen him. Bingley of course returned with him to
                       dinner; and in the evening Mrs. Bennet's invention was again at work to get every body
                       away from him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a letter to write, went into the
                       breakfast room for that purpose soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit
                       down to cards, she could not be wanted to counteract her mother's schemes.
                          But on returning to the drawing-room, when her letter was finished, she saw, to her
                       infinite surprise, there was reason to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for
                       her. On opening the door, she perceived her sister and Bingley standing together over
                       the hearth, as if engaged in earnest conversation; and had this led to no suspicion, the
                       faces of both, as they hastily turned round and moved away from each other, would
                       have told it all. Their situation was awkward enough; but hers she thought was still
                       worse. Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on the point of going
                       away again, when Bingley, who as well as the other had sat down, suddenly rose, and
                       whispering a few words to her sister, ran out of the room.
                         Jane could have no reserves from Elizabeth, where confidence would give pleasure;
                       and instantly embracing her, acknowledged, with the liveliest emotion, that she was the
                       happiest creature in the world.
                         "'Tis too much!" she added, "by far too much. I do not deserve it. Oh! why is not
                       everybody as happy?"

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                         Elizabeth's congratulations were given with a sincerity, a warmth, a delight, which
                       words could but poorly express. Every sentence of kindness was a fresh source of
                       happiness to Jane. But she would not allow herself to stay with her sister, or say half
                       that remained to be said for the present.
                          "I must go instantly to my mother;" she cried. "I would not on any account trifle with
                       her affectionate solicitude; or allow her to hear it from anyone but myself. He is gone to
                       my father already. Oh! Lizzy, to know that what I have to relate will give such pleasure
                       to all my dear family! how shall I bear so much happiness!"
                         She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken up the card party,
                       and was sitting up stairs with Kitty.
                          Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity and ease with which an
                       affair was finally settled, that had given them so many previous months of suspense and
                          "And this," said she, "is the end of all his friend's anxious circumspection! of all his
                       sister's falsehood and contrivance! the happiest, wisest, most reasonable end!"
                         In a few minutes she was joined by Bingley, whose conference with her father had
                       been short and to the purpose.
                          "Where is your sister?" said he hastily, as he opened the door.
                          "With my mother up stairs. She will be down in a moment, I dare say."
                          He then shut the door, and, coming up to her, claimed the good wishes and affection
                       of a sister. Elizabeth honestly and heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their
                       relationship. They shook hands with great cordiality; and then, till her sister came
                       down, she had to listen to all he had to say of his own happiness, and of Jane's
                       perfections; and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed all his
                       expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the
                       excellent understanding, and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general
                       similarity of feeling and taste between her and himself.
                          It was an evening of no common delight to them all; the satisfaction of Miss Bennet's
                       mind gave a glow of such sweet animation to her face, as made her look handsomer
                       than ever. Kitty simpered and smiled, and hoped her turn was coming soon. Mrs.
                       Bennet could not give her consent or speak her approbation in terms warm enough to
                       satisfy her feelings, though she talked to Bingley of nothing else for half an hour; and
                       when Mr. Bennet joined them at supper, his voice and manner plainly showed how
                       really happy he was.
                         Not a word, however, passed his lips in allusion to it, till their visitor took his leave
                       for the night; but as soon as he was gone, he turned to his daughter, and said:
                          "Jane, I congratulate you. You will be a very happy woman."
                          Jane went to him instantly, kissed him, and thanked him for his goodness.
                          "You are a good girl;" he replied, "and I have great pleasure in thinking you will be
                       so happily settled. I have not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers
                       are by no means unlike. You are each of you so complying, that nothing will ever be
                       resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will
                       always exceed your income."

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                         "I hope not so. Imprudence or thoughtlessness in money matters would be
                       unpardonable in me."
                          "Exceed their income! My dear Mr. Bennet," cried his wife, "what are you talking
                       of? Why, he has four or five thousand a year, and very likely more." Then addressing
                       her daughter, "Oh! my dear, dear Jane, I am so happy! I am sure I shan't get a wink of
                       sleep all night. I knew how it would be. I always said it must be so, at last. I was sure
                       you could not be so beautiful for nothing! I remember, as soon as ever I saw him, when
                       he first came into Hertfordshire last year, I thought how likely it was that you should
                       come together. Oh! he is the handsomest young man that ever was seen!"
                          Wickham, Lydia, were all forgotten. Jane was beyond competition her favourite
                       child. At that moment, she cared for no other. Her younger sisters soon began to make
                       interest with her for objects of happiness which she might in future be able to dispense.
                         Mary petitioned for the use of the library at Netherfield; and Kitty begged very hard
                       for a few balls there every winter.
                          Bingley, from this time, was of course a daily visitor at Longbourn; coming
                       frequently before breakfast, and always remaining till after supper; unless when some
                       barbarous neighbour, who could not be enough detested, had given him an invitation to
                       dinner which he thought himself obliged to accept.
                          Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her sister; for while he was
                       present, Jane had no attention to bestow on anyone else; but she found herself
                       considerably useful to both of them in those hours of separation that must sometimes
                       occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached himself to Elizabeth, for the pleasure
                       of talking of her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the same means
                       of relief.
                          "He has made me so happy," said she, one evening, "by telling me that he was totally
                       ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible."
                          "I suspected as much," replied Elizabeth. "But how did he account for it?"
                          "It must have been his sister's doing. They were certainly no friends to his
                       acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much
                       more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their
                       brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good
                       terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other."
                         "That is the most unforgiving speech," said Elizabeth, "that I ever heard you utter.
                       Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley's
                       pretended regard."
                          "Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really
                       loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented
                       his coming down again!"
                          "He made a little mistake to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty."
                         This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value
                       he put on his own good qualities. Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed
                       the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving
                       heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against

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                         "I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!" cried Jane. "Oh! Lizzy,
                       why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see
                       you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!"
                          "If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have
                       your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift
                       for myself; and, perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins
                       in time."
                         The situation of affairs in the Longbourn family could not be long a secret. Mrs.
                       Bennet was privileged to whisper it to Mrs. Phillips, and she ventured, without any
                       permission, to do the same by all her neighbours in Meryton.
                         The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world, though
                       only a few weeks before, when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally
                       proved to be marked out for misfortune.

                                                           Chapter 56
                          One morning, about a week after Bingley's engagement with Jane had been formed,
                       as he and the females of the family were sitting together in the dining-room, their
                       attention was suddenly drawn to the window, by the sound of a carriage; and they
                       perceived a chaise and four driving up the lawn. It was too early in the morning for
                       visitors, and besides, the equipage did not answer to that of any of their neighbours. The
                       horses were post; and neither the carriage, nor the livery of the servant who preceded
                       it, were familiar to them. As it was certain, however, that somebody was coming,
                       Bingley instantly prevailed on Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of such an
                       intrusion, and walk away with him into the shrubbery. They both set off, and the
                       conjectures of the remaining three continued, though with little satisfaction, till the door
                       was thrown open and their visitor entered. It was Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
                         They were of course all intending to be surprised; but their astonishment was beyond
                       their expectation; and on the part of Mrs. Bennet and Kitty, though she was perfectly
                       unknown to them, even inferior to what Elizabeth felt.
                         She entered the room with an air more than usually ungracious, made no other reply
                       to Elizabeth's salutation than a slight inclination of the head, and sat down without
                       saying a word. Elizabeth had mentioned her name to her mother on her ladyship's
                       entrance, though no request of introduction had been made.
                          Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high
                       importance, received her with the utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in
                       silence, she said very stiffly to Elizabeth,
                          "I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady, I suppose, is your mother."
                          Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was.

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                          "And that I suppose is one of your sisters."
                         "Yes, madam," said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to Lady Catherine. "She is my
                       youngest girl but one. My youngest of all is lately married, and my eldest is somewhere
                       about the grounds, walking with a young man who, I believe, will soon become a part of
                       the family."
                          "You have a very small park here," returned Lady Catherine after a short silence.
                         "It is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my lady, I dare say; but I assure you it is
                       much larger than Sir William Lucas's."
                         "This must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening, in summer; the
                       windows are full west."
                          Mrs. Bennet assured her that they never sat there after dinner, and then added:
                         "May I take the liberty of asking your ladyship whether you left Mr. and Mrs. Collins
                          "Yes, very well. I saw them the night before last."
                         Elizabeth now expected that she would produce a letter for her from Charlotte, as it
                       seemed the only probable motive for her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was
                       completely puzzled.
                         Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her ladyship to take some refreshment; but
                       Lady Catherine very resolutely, and not very politely, declined eating anything; and
                       then, rising up, said to Elizabeth,
                         "Miss Bennet, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of
                       your lawn. I should be glad to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your
                          "Go, my dear," cried her mother, "and show her ladyship about the different walks. I
                       think she will be pleased with the hermitage."
                          Elizabeth obeyed, and running into her own room for her parasol, attended her noble
                       guest downstairs. As they passed through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors
                       into the dining-parlour and drawing-room, and pronouncing them, after a short survey,
                       to be decent looking rooms, walked on.
                           Her carriage remained at the door, and Elizabeth saw that her waiting-woman was in
                       it. They proceeded in silence along the gravel walk that led to the copse; Elizabeth was
                       determined to make no effort for conversation with a woman who was now more than
                       usually insolent and disagreeable.
                          "How could I ever think her like her nephew?" said she, as she looked in her face.
                          As soon as they entered the copse, Lady Catherine began in the following manner:—
                         "You can be at no loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the reason of my journey hither.
                       Your own heart, your own conscience, must tell you why I come."
                          Elizabeth looked with unaffected astonishment.
                          "Indeed, you are mistaken, Madam. I have not been at all able to account for the

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                       honour of seeing you here."
                          "Miss Bennet," replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, "you ought to know, that I am
                       not to be trifled with. But however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find
                       me so. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness, and in a
                       cause of such moment as this, I shall certainly not depart from it. A report of a most
                       alarming nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only your sister was on
                       the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth
                       Bennet, would, in all likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew, my own
                       nephew, Mr. Darcy. Though I know it must be a scandalous falsehood, though I would
                       not injure him so much as to suppose the truth of it possible, I instantly resolved on
                       setting off for this place, that I might make my sentiments known to you."
                         "If you believed it impossible to be true," said Elizabeth, colouring with astonishment
                       and disdain, "I wonder you took the trouble of coming so far. What could your ladyship
                       propose by it?"
                          "At once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted."
                         "Your coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family," said Elizabeth coolly, "will
                       be rather a confirmation of it; if, indeed, such a report is in existence."
                         "If! Do you then pretend to be ignorant of it? Has it not been industriously circulated
                       by yourselves? Do you not know that such a